Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 06-25

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Cecil Clarke

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Justice - Addt'l. Officer Allocation, Hon. M. Scott 1834
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 934, Insurance Bureau of Can.: Operation Red Nose - Congrats.,
The Premier 1836
Vote - Affirmative 1836
Res. 935, N.S. War Brides Assoc./Women's Place Res. Ctr.: War -
Brides - Honouring Thank, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1836
Vote - Affirmative 1837
Res. 936, Military Relations: Armed Forces Personnel - Advocacy,
Hon. M. Scott 1837
Vote - Affirmative 1838
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 114, Engineering Profession Act, Hon. M. Scott 1838
No. 115, Architects Act, Hon. M. Scott 1838
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 937, Morrison, Janet - Birthday (30th), Mr. F. Corbett 1838
Vote - Affirmative 1839
Res. 938, Gov't. (N.S.): Gas. Regulation - Cancel, Mr. M. Samson 1839
Res. 939, Wilson, Bridget: Ryl. Agricultural Winter Fair - Competition,
The Premier 1840
Vote - Affirmative 1840
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 940, Singh, Martin/Forest Hill Drug Mart - Award of Recognition,
Mr. K. Deveaux 1841
Vote - Affirmative 1841
Res. 941, Gov't. (N.S.) Gas Regulation - Review, Mr. M. Samson 1841
Res. 942, Maynard, Alanna: St. John Ambulance - Dedication,
Mr. C. Porter 1842
Vote - Affirmative 1843
Res. 943, McDonald's Rest. - Dart. (Main St.): Opening - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Massey 1843
Vote - Affirmative 1844
Res. 944, Foy, Nicole - Ladies Amateur Golf Championship,
Mr. W. Gaudet 1844
Vote - Affirmative 1845
Res. 945, Malcolm, Courtney: N.S. Sport Hall of Fame - Induction,
Mr. P. Dunn 1845
Vote - Affirmative 1846
Res. 946, Scotsburn 4-H Club: Executive - Election, Mr. C. Parker 1846
Vote - Affirmative 1846
Res. 947, Cdn. Cancer Soc.: New Annan &Area Unit - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. K. Casey 1846
Vote - Affirmative 1847
Res. 948, Allen, David: Joyce Myers Award, Hon. M. Baker 1847
Vote - Affirmative 1848
Res. 949, Curwin, Julie: Standard Chartered Ironman Korea -
Performance, Mr. G. Gosse 1848
Vote - Affirmative 1849
Res. 950, Autism: Preschool Level - Funding, Mr. L. Glavine 1849
Vote - Affirmative 1849
Res. 951, Spinney Bros. Bluegrass Band: Success - Acknowledge,
Hon. D. Morse 1850
Vote - Affirmative 1850
Res. 952, St. Andrews United Church - Gandhi, King, Ikeda Exhibit,
Mr. L. Preyra 1850
Vote - Affirmative 1851
Res. 953, Day of Tolerance (11/16/06): People - Educate,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1851
Vote - Affirmative 1852
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 954, Wolter, Mattias: Cross-Country Meet - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1852
Vote - Affirmative 1853
Res. 955, Seaside Rec. & Commun. Ctr.: Vols. - Recognize,
Ms. V. Conrad 1853
Vote - Affirmative 1853
Res. 956, Miller, Ian: Pan-American Championships - Achievements,
Ms. D. Whalen 1853
Vote - Affirmative 1854
Res. 957, Webster, Mary Grace: Atl. Baptist Univ. - Graduation,
Mr. P. Dunn 1855
Vote - Affirmative 1855
Res. 958, E. Pictou Mid. Sch.: Junior Boys Cross-Country Team -
Championship, Mr. C. MacKinnon 1855
Vote - Affirmative 1856
Res. 959, Pearson Peacekeeping Ctr. - UN Integrated Mission
Course, Mr. H. Theriault 1856
Vote - Affirmative 1856
Res. 960, Hallett, Cary/Bd. Members: Belmont Penny Auction -
Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 1857
Vote - Affirmative 1857
Res. 961, Gallant, Paula: Ecole Beechville Lakeside Timberlea-
Room Dedication, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1857
Vote - Affirmative 1858
Res. 962, Foy, Nicole - Jackie Frost Tournament: Win - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 1858
Vote - Affirmative 1859
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 116, Access to Regulated Professions Act, Ms. D. Whalen 1859
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 963, Military/RCMP - Benefit Reduction: Gov't. (Can.) -
Investigate, Mr. L. Glavine 1859
Vote - Affirmative 1860
Res. 964, Gov't. (N.S.): Digby Wharf - Assistance,
Mr. H. Theriault 1860
Res. 965, Poteri, Jack: Commun. Contributions - Recognize,
Ms. D. Whalen 1861
Vote - Affirmative 1861
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 240, Prem.: IT System - Bidding Process, Mr. D. Dexter 1862
No. 241, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Gas Regulation - Increases,
Mr. M. Samson 1863
No. 242, Fin.: IT Project - Status, Mr. G. Steele 1865
No. 243, Educ.: Med. Students - Loan Relief, Mr. D. Dexter 1866
No. 244, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Gas Regulation Comments - Retract,
Mr. M. Samson 1868
No. 245, Educ.: Student Loan System - Change, Mr. L. Preyra 1869
No. 246, Health Care: Privatization - Effects,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1870
No. 247, Com. Serv.: Child Care Plan - Details, Mr. S. McNeil 1871
No. 248, TCH: RV Travellers - Parking Ban, Ms. J. Massey 1873
No. 249, Educ.: University Enrolments - Decline, Mr. L. Glavine 1874
No. 250, Com. Serv.: Special Needs Assistance - Qualification,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1875
No. 251, Immigration: N.S. Nominee Prog.- Status, Mr. L. Preyra 1876
No. 252, Com. Serv.: Housing - Income Threshold,
Mr. H. Theriault 1878
No. 253, Women: Status of: Adoptions - Parental Leave,
Ms. M. More 1879
No. 254, Hum. Res.: Civil Serv. Retirements - Address,
Mr. G. Gosse 1881
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 80, Canadian Forces Reservists Civilian Employment Act 1883
Mr. D. Dexter 1883
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1883
Hon. M. Scott 1884
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1887
Mr. L. Glavine 1890
Hon. M. Parent 1891
Mr. K. Deveaux 1892
Mr. D. Dexter 1894
Vote - Affirmative 1896
Vote - Affirmative
No. 78, Order of Nova Scotia Act 1896
Mr. S. McNeil 1896
The Premier 1897
Mr. L. Preyra 1898
Mr. M. Samson 1900
Mr. S. McNeil 1901
Vote - Affirmative 1901
No. 83, Labour Standards Code 1901
Mr. K. Colwell 1901
Hon. M. Parent 1902
Mr. K. Deveaux 1902
Mr. K. Colwell 1904
Vote - Affirmative 1905
No. 86, Motor Vehicle Act 1905
Mr. K. Colwell 1905
Hon. B. Barnet 1906
Mr. C. Parker 1907
Mr. C. Porter 1908
Ms. J. Massey 1910
Ms. V. Conrad 1913
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1914
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1915
Mr. K. Colwell 1916
Vote - Affirmative 1917
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 107, Midwifery Act 1917
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1917
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1919
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1923
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1924
Ms. V. Conrad 1928
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1931
Ms. M. Raymond 1933
Mr. J. MacDonell 1935
Mr. L. Preyra 1937
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1939
Vote - Affirmative 1941
Vote - Affirmative
No. 113, Environment Act 1941
Hon. M. Parent 1941
Ms. M. Raymond 1943
Mr. K. Colwell 1949
ADJOURNMENT:
ADJOURNMENT UNDER RULE 5(5):
TPW - Hwy. No. 101: Twinning - Prioritize:
Mr. H. Theriault 1952
Mr. S. McNeil 1954
Hon. B. Barnet 1955
Mr. C. Porter 1956
Mr. C. Parker 1958
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]
No. 113, Environment Act [debate resumed]
Mr. K. Colwell 1961
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Scott 1964
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]
No. 113, Environment Act [debate resumed]
Ms. J. Massey 1964
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1968
Ms. M. More 1971
Ms. V. Conrad 1974
Hon. M. Parent 1979
Vote - Affirmative 1980
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Nov. 17th at 9:00 a.m. 1980
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)
Res. 966, River Hebert Elem. Sch. - Nat'l. Child Day: Recognition -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1981
Res. 967, Rushton, Jeremy - Wentworth Vol. FD: Serv. (1yr.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1981
Res. 968, Patriquin, Darren - Wentworth Vol. FD: Serv. (5yrs.) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1982
Res. 969, Rushton, Jennifer - Wentworth Vol. FD: Serv. (1yr.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1982
Res. 970, Patriquin, Dale - Wentworth Vol. FD: Serv. (30yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1983
Hon. M. Scott
Res. 971, Chapman, Stephen - Westchester Vol. FD: Serv. (20yrs.) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1983
Res. 972, Gullens, Alex - Westchester Vol. FD: Serv. (5yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1984
Res. 973, Jones, Edwin - Westchester Vol. FD: Serv. (1yr.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1984
Res. 974, Rushton, Barry - Westchester Vol. FD: Serv. (15yrs.) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1985
Res. 975, Merlin, Forrest - Westchester Vol. FD: Serv. (5yrs.) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1985
Res. 976, Layte, Chris - Oxford Vol. FD Serv. (5 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1986
Res. 977, Ellis, Allison - Oxford Vol. FD: Serv. (10yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1986
Res. 978, Hickman, Ken - Oxford Vol. FD: Serv. (10yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1987
Res. 979, Rushton, Truman - Oxford Vol. FD: Serv. (10yrs.) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1987
Res. 980, Emmerson, Dean - Oxford Vol. FD: Serv. (45yrs.) -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1988
Res. 981, Oxford Vol. FD/Ladies Aux./Families: Serv. - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1988
Res. 982, Wilson, Raelene: Athletic Achievement - Congrats.
Hon. M. Scott 1989
Res. 983, Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership - Tourism Award,
Hon. M. Scott 1989

[Page 1833]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Before we begin with the daily routine, the subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings West:

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government immediately address the commitment of twinning Highway No. 101 and include the project among the Department of Transportation and Public Works' top priorities in the new year.

This debate will be heard this evening at 6:00 p.m.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

1833

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 1834]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise in the House today. Earlier today, we concluded discussions with Nova Scotia law enforcement on the allocation of the first instalment of 250 new police officers for the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause) This has been a collaborative effort with municipal police forces and the RCMP. We have included their expertise in setting the priorities for setting allocation and I want to personally thank them at this time for their ongoing support and commitment to their communities.

Earlier this year, the province announced 250 new officers to be added over four years, starting in the Spring of 2007. The total budget over those four years for new officers is $65 million. Mr. Speaker, we have adopted a phased-in approach to the allocation of these officers. We have taken the time for joint planning with law enforcement to ensure that we make the most impact on community safety. At the same time, police agencies need adequate time for their own planning and recruitment efforts.

Mr. Speaker, additional police officers will be added to all 55 Nova Scotia municipalities within the next two years. Today's meeting determined the allocation of an initial 109 officers, with all municipalities receiving at least one new officer by the Spring of 2008. Smaller municipalities will receive one to two officers; the Halifax Regional Municipality will receive 36 and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will receive 10 additional officers. (Applause)

A Strategic Deployment Committee is being established to plan for the allocation of the remaining officers. Priority issues, when considering distribution of new officers, include activities such as addressing organized crime, street crime, child exploitation, illegal drugs and school safety.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's law enforcement agencies have shown strategic thinking throughout this whole process. For example, both Pictou County and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are taking an innovative approach to make the most of these officers, creating units that will address illegal drugs and also creating school liaison positions that will help ensure the safety of our children. The addition of new officers is just one of the many initiatives to address crime in our province.

In the next few days, I will announce the membership of the Minister's Task Force on Safe Streets and Communities. This group will meet with citizens of the province to look at community programs, government services, legislation and policing initiatives, and to identify and promote programs that are making a positive difference in communities. We are also announcing the new rewards program to help those unsolved murders in our province, and we'll soon see the creation of a new investigative unit to work with communities to address crime in their neighbourhoods. We are currently looking to fill the Director of Investigations position and the officers will then

[Page 1835]

round out the team. We are also looking forward to the release of the Nunn Report, which has put a renewed focus and momentum on addressing the root causes of crime and strengthening enforcement measures.

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to working with the communities and partners to keep safer, stronger communities high on the agenda. We have demonstrated this through several key pieces of legislation and platform commitments, dedicated to building stronger, safer communities. With today's announcement, municipalities can begin to plan for recruitment of these additional officers, a critical component for ensuring the safety of Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to commend the Minister of Justice for continuing to implement the NDP agenda on crime prevention.

Let me see, Mr. Speaker, the safer communities Act - done; crystal meth prevention Act - done; more police officers on the street - done. I look forward in the weeks and months to come to mental health courts being done, community prosecutors being hired, a high risk offender task force, and a gang prosecution task force. When those things are done, I will stand up and say that this province is safer because this government is implementing, again, more of the NDP agenda. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of our Justice Critic and interim Leader, I would like to rise and, first of all, commend the government on bringing this initiative here today and commend the Minister of Justice. It points out that the government does do some things right.

Mr. Speaker, this is an initiative that's going to be welcomed throughout the province, particularly in my municipality, and our chief, Edgar MacLeod, and his board of police commissioners and the people who are concerned about crime in the Sydney area, concerned about street drugs, concerned about the fact that organized crime seems to be getting even a greater toehold in this province and has to be combated. I want to just say to the minister that this is welcome on behalf of our Party and it's an initiative that hopefully we can build on, because the people of Nova Scotia have to be assured that they can live and bring up their families in a safe environment in this province. Again, I commend the minister for his action today.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

[Page 1836]

RESOLUTION NO. 934

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas each year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada's Operation Red Nose rallies hundreds of volunteers to ensure hundreds of fellow citizens get home safely; and

Whereas Operation Red Nose, launched in Halifax today, is a free, designated driver service provided on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the holiday season; and

Whereas last year, the program - carried out in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta - involved volunteers in more than 7,300 cars, driving two or three clients each safely to their destinations in more than 90 communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate IBC for again sponsoring Operation Red Nose and salute the volunteers whose selfless efforts make our roads a safer place.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 935

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Betty Rafuse, Rose Rhodenizer, Ann Balcom, Lillian Whynot, and Win Baker left their homelands as war brides to build new lives in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 1837]

Whereas these women, and all war brides, have helped make Nova Scotia a better place to live; and

Whereas they inspired their families, neighbours, and other residents of the Annapolis Valley with their stories and memories yesterday in honour of Remembrance Day and the Year of the War Bride;

Therefore be it resolved that I call upon all members of the Legislature to join me in thanking members of the Nova Scotia War Brides Association, especially Eileen Spicer, and the Women's Place Resource Centre in Bridgetown for helping to honour Canada's war brides and to celebrate the Year of the War Bride.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Military Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 936

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas our military veterans have selflessly contributed to the relief of distress of people around the world through Canada's military missions; and

Whereas as a result of their missions, some veterans have become disabled or have developed medical conditions that usually affect them for the rest of their lives; and

Whereas we now live in the post 9/11 world and our military has to engage in duties that go beyond traditional peacekeeping missions, but there is an inequity between the treatment and compensation of soldiers and bureaucrats who died during foreign missions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House realize the long-term consequences on our military service personnel who are assigned to hazardous duties

[Page 1838]

overseas and the need for Nova Scotia's Ministry of Military Relations to be vigilant in advocating for Armed Forces personnel.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 114 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 148 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Engineering Profession Act. (Hon. Murray Scott)

Bill No. 115 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Practice of Architecture. (Hon. Murray Scott)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 937

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Janet Morrison will celebrate her 30th birthday with family and friends on November 18, 2006; and

Whereas when Janet was born she was very ill and suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome; and

Whereas with the love of her family and many friends, Janet has enjoyed a great deal of success in her life including graduating from high school;

[Page 1839]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Janet Morrison on the celebration of her 30th birthday and extend wishes for many more to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 938

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the price of gas in Nova Scotia has once again soared due to the government's commitment to a regulation system that clearly does not work; and

Whereas the gas price regulation system currently in place continues to be supported by the Official Opposition, indicating that both Parties are in favour of aiding big gas companies; and

Whereas consumers and retailers alike are being gouged because of gas regulation in Nova Scotia and require government action to resolve this failed initiative;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly call upon the Government of Nova Scotia to immediately cancel the gas regulated pricing system, and come to the aid of all Nova Scotians by taking ownership of a policy failure and returning our province to a competitive market system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 1840]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 939

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Bridget Wilson, a 4-H member from Inverness County, was one of nine dairy participants from Nova Scotia to recently take part in the Scotiabank Dairy Classic at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto; and

Whereas Bridget's performance at the Nova Scotia 4-H show in September enabled her to travel to the Royal Winter Fair; and

Whereas Bridget placed 22nd in a class of 113 participants from across Canada, in the Junior Dairy Showmanship category;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud Ms. Bridget Wilson of Inverness County for her 4-H activity and keen interest in wanting to compete with the best at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 940

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 1841]

Whereas Forest Hill Drug Mart has been a fixture in the community of Musquodoboit Harbour for over 30 years, providing excellent service to the residents in the area; and

Whereas Forest Hill Drug Mart has been actively involved in the development of alternative service delivery models for ensuring customers have access to the medication they need; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Department of Health presented an Award of Recognition to those health providers who have been instrumental in implementing the Community Medication Management Program, which was established in 1998 by the department to improve service delivery for Nova Scotians who have mental health issues;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Martin Singh, co-owner of Forest Hill Drug Mart in Musquodoboit Harbour, for receiving the 2006 Department of Health Award of Recognition for his efforts in implementing the Community Medication Management Program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 941

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the price of gas today in New Brunswick is 90.7 cents per litre, more than a 4 cent difference when compared to 94.9 cents per litre in some regions of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 1842]

Whereas due to the ineffective and inaccurate gas regulation pricing system, at midnight November 16th, gas retailers and consumers experienced as much as a 5 cent per litre jump in gas prices in certain areas in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Leader of the Official Opposition was quoted yesterday as saying "we have among the lowest gas prices in the country", and has urged the government to "stay the course" on gas regulation;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly call upon the Government of Nova Scotia to immediately launch the review of gas regulation for this province, and alleviate the price gouging on gas consumers and retailers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 942

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Order of St. John is one of the oldest voluntary humanitarian and charitable organizations in the world and St. John Ambulance is a foundation of this charitable order; and

Whereas in 1888, Queen Victoria granted the Order of St. John a Royal Charter in recognition of its commitment to outstanding . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber.

The honourable member for Hants West has the floor.

MR. PORTER: . . . charitable service and increasingly diverse activities; and

[Page 1843]

Whereas Alanna Maynard was presented this impressive and prominent award at St. Agnes Church in Halifax, on November 4th by Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor, Mayann Francis;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Alanna Maynard for her dedication and service to St. John Ambulance and to our community in Hants West.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham, on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the attention of members of the Legislature to a guest today, and I'm not sure if it's the Speaker's Gallery or the east gallery, but Mr. Art Younger is here from my constituency to watch the proceedings of the House, including Question Period. I'd like members to extend to him a warm welcome. Mr. Younger. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to the House today.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 943

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on August 15, 2006, I had the pleasure to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new McDonalds restaurant on Main Street in Dartmouth; and

Whereas McDonalds first opened its Main Street Dartmouth store in 1971, 35 years ago; and

[Page 1844]

Whereas the new restaurant contains a first of its kind "Forever Young Active Play Place" to promote physical activity and hosts seating for 96 people;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate McDonalds on the opening of their new restaurant on Main Street in Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 944

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas River Hills in Clyde River, Shelburne County hosted the Nova Scotia Golf Association's 2006 Ladies Amateur Golf Championships on July 6th to July 9th; and

Whereas Nicole Foy of Clare won the 2006 Ladies Amateur Championships; and

Whereas Ms. Foy finished the tournament with a score of 313 after the four-day event;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Nicole Foy of Clare for winning the 2006 Nova Scotia Golf Association's Ladies Amateur Golf Championships.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1845]

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 945

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas New Glasgow native Mr. Courtney Malcolm, who suffered a serious leg injury during the 1940s when many felt he could join the elite ranks of the National Hockey League, was recently inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame; and

Whereas the former hockey player, coach, administrator and developer is well-known and respected throughout provincial sporting venues, volunteering his time over the years with numerous hockey, baseball, soccer, and track and field organizations; and

Whereas Mr. Malcolm served on the New Glasgow Rink Commission and Recreation Committee, and lists one of his fondest memories the 1946 Provincial Championship Hockey title he won with the Temperance Street Elementary School over Oxford School in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to Courtney Malcolm on his recent induction. It is important that we continue to recognize those who have stood out within the sporting community, reminding us all of the immense talent and dedication that can be found within all Nova Scotian athletes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 946

[Page 1846]

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the 4-H Program has been a success in Pictou County for more than 80 years; and

Whereas the Scotsburn 4-H Club, under general leader Cathy Lavers, meets monthly at the Scotsburn Elementary School, and began the new year with the motto "4-H a Lasting Impression (in 2007)"; and

Whereas the newly-elected executive consists of Courtney Jones as president, Kayla Graham as vice-president, Jane Stevens as secretary, Robert Lavers as treasurer, and Kelsey Boone as club reporter;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the leaders and members of the Scotsburn 4-H Club for beginning the year with a great initiative and extend wishes to the Scotsburn 4-H Club for continued success in their endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 947

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstone of Nova Scotia's towns and villages; and

Whereas these volunteers give freely of their time, their talents and their funds for their cause; and

Whereas the New Annan and area unit of the Canadian Cancer Society recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary;

[Page 1847]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to the members of the New Annan and area unit of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary mined, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 948

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Nova Scotia Curling Association presents the Joyce Myers Award, annually, to an outstanding curler who has demonstrated a commitment to the sport of curling over the years; and

Whereas David Allen of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, was chosen as this year's recipient of the Joyce Myers Award; and

Whereas David Allen was presented with the award at the Lunenburg Curling Club Hall of Fame Dinner on November 4, 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate David Allen on being chosen as this year's recipient of the Nova Scotia Curling Association Joyce Myers Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 1848]

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 949

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Sunday, August 27, 2006, the Standard Chartered Ironman Korea was held at the premier tourist island of Jeju; and

Whereas in sweltering temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius and nearly 100 per cent humidity, Julie Curwin completed the 2.4-mile swim, the 112-mile bike ride, and the 26.2 miles of running in convincing fashion; and

Whereas Julie Curwin's exploits enabled her to finish second female pro, a performance that one and all can be proud of;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Julie Curwin on her outstanding performance at the Standard Chartered Ironman Korea event and wish her all the best in her future athletic endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 950

[Page 1849]

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas autism continues to be diagnosed at an increasing rate, and early intervention is critical; and

Whereas the early intensive behavioral intervention leads to improvement in language, social and behavioural skills, enabling integration into the school system; and

Whereas the EIBI program is a success story when funds provide an occupational therapist, speech therapist and an autism support worker;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House lobby for a federal initiative that would provide enough funding for every autistic toddler and preschooler in Nova Scotia to receive a full complement of professional and paraprofessional assistance from the day they are diagnosed until they start Primary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 951

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the award-winning Spinney Brothers Bluegrass Band is an example of the talent that is so prevalent in the Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas they were one of 13 bands, and the only Canadian one, invited to perform at the World of Bluegrass 2006, in Nashville in front of 2,000 influential industry professionals this Fall; and

[Page 1850]

Whereas they continue to be nominated for and win an impressive stream of music awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature acknowledge and celebrate in the success of this homegrown international success story.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 952

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Reverend Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and a prominent leader in peace education was in Halifax on November 10, 2006 to officially open the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Exhibit at St. Andrews United Church; and

Whereas this exhibit commemorates the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Daisaku Ikeda, three international leaders in peace and non-violence whose stories and legacies must not be forgotten; and

Whereas in hosting Reverend Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., and the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Exhibit, St. Andrews United Church demonstrates its commitment to providing a public venue for education and dialogue on peace and non-violence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate St. Andrews United Church for hosting the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Exhibit and commend St. Andrews United Church for its promotion of peace and non-violence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1851]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 953

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada) is a national charitable organization established in 1946 with a mandate to engage the Canadian public in the work of critical international issues; and

Whereas in 1996, the General Assembly invited member states to observe the International Day for Tolerance, with activities directed towards both educational establishments and the wider public; and

Whereas November 16th has been designated by the United Nations as International Day for Tolerance;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly work to educate everyone to advance human welfare and freedom as well as encourage tolerance, respect, dialogue and co-operation for all people.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 1852]

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 954

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas participating in sports and recreational activities is encouraged at all levels; and

Whereas sports and recreation activities contribute to a healthy, active lifestyle; and

Whereas Hebbville Academy student, Mattias Wolter took first place in the Provincial Cross Country Meet in the Intermediate Boys category;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mattias Wolter on his excellent performance in the Provincial Cross Country Meet.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 955

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas annually a craft sale and quilt show are held at the Seaside Centre in Beach Meadows; and

Whereas this event features over 30 crafters along with demonstrations of rug hooking, hand quilting and painting as well as a large quilt display; and

[Page 1853]

Whereas the proceeds from this event enable the Seaside Recreation and Community Centre to continue operating;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the volunteers of the Seaside Recreation and Community Centre of Beach Meadows, Queens County, Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 956

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Ian Miller, a paddler from Maskwa Aquatic Club competed at the 2006 Pan-American Championships in Mexico this past September; and

Whereas Ian was chosen to represent Canada at the opening ceremonies; and

Whereas the games were a tremendous success as Ian's team won three gold medals in the K-4 races;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ian Miller and our athletes for their achievements at the Pan-American Championships in Mexico and wish them continued success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 1854]

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 957

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas 22-year-old youth pastor, Mary Grace Webster, has been contributing to the spiritual needs of New Glasgow's youth since her recent graduation from the Atlantic Baptist University; and

Whereas Pastor Webster, originally from Prince Edward Island, was called to serve the youth of First United Baptist Church in New Glasgow as the congregation's first ever Pastor of Youth and Children's Ministries; and

Whereas Pastor Webster has dedicated her life to working with youth groups of various ages and coordinates weekly Christian faith programs; Pastor Webster also calls on her extensive travel experience to help distribute her ministry and feels blessed for the opportunity to do what she loves;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to youth pastor, Mary Grace Webster, on her recent graduation and appointment; such dedication early in life ensures that her community will be able to benefit from her guidance for, hopefully, many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 1855]

RESOLUTION NO. 958

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the East Pictou Middle School cross country team began training at the beginning of the school year to compete in the provincial championships; and

Whereas the provincial championships that were recently held in Bridgewater included 20 teams from across the province with over 125 competitors; and

Whereas the Junior Boys team of William Schmidt, Peter McLean, Devon Martell, Justin Stewart and Jordan Heighton, all of whom are rookies except for one runner, won the provincial championship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the East Pictou Middle School's Junior Boys cross country team for winning the provincial Cross County Championship in October, 2006.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 959

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre has launched its third United Nations integrated staff officers course at its Cornwallis campus facilities; and

Whereas 25 participants from 16 countries are in Nova Scotia for the 8-week course designed to prepare them to work as staff officers in a United Nations integrated mission headquarters; and

[Page 1856]

Whereas the United Nations Integrated Staff Officers courses are an example of how we in Canada are leading the way in problem-based, multi-disciplinary and integrated approaches to peace operations training;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize Nova Scotia's participation in offering courses designed to prepare the international participants to work as staff officers in the UN's integrated mission headquarters.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 960

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Belmont Penny Auction is an annual event to fundraise for the community hall; and

Whereas the penny auction raises more than just a few pennies to help sustain the activities which the hall organizes and hosts; and

Whereas Cary Hollett and his board members tirelessly organize this fun event annually;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Hollett of Belmont and his board for volunteer efforts to maintain the hall and the community spirit in Belmont.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

[Page 1857]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 961

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Wednesday, December 6, 2006, Ecolé Beechville Lakeside Timberlea School will formally dedicate a room in the memory of teacher, Paula Gallant; and

Whereas this art room, Paula's Place, will serve as a testament to the wonderful talents of this exceptional teacher; and

Whereas family, friends, colleagues and community members have worked tirelessly in preparation for the opening of Paula's Place;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank all those involved in this lasting tribute to Paula Gallant, who touched so many people.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 962

[Page 1858]

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Clare Golf and Country Club hosted the Jackie Frost Ladies Invitational Tournament September 16th and 17th; and

Whereas Nicole Foy of Clare won the Jackie Frost Ladies Invitational Tournament for the fifth year in a row; and

Whereas Nicole won the tournament with a two-date total of 150;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Nicole Foy for winning the 2006 Jackie Frost Ladies Invitational Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: A bill.

MR. SPEAKER: So you're requesting that we revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[12:45 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 116 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Appointment and Duties of a Commissioner to Ensure the Fair Access to Regulated Professions. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

[Page 1859]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 963

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Canada Pension Plan was enacted in 1965, with the intention of providing another source of income security to our seniors; and

Whereas the veterans of our military and Royal Canadian Mounted Police deserve the same rights and privileges that all retired people are offered; and

Whereas Military and RCMP Pensioners Against Benefit Reduction mission is to have members of Parliament initiate action to terminate the pension reduction formula that is applied to benefits of these Veterans;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly encourage the Government of Canada to investigate this matter immediately and end the unfair policy of benefit reduction to our veterans of the military and the RCMP.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 964

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 1860]

Whereas in 1999, the federal Department of Transport made an error when it divested its responsibility away from the Digby wharf; and

Whereas for six years, the local community has worked towards a solution to regain control of this valuable asset; and

Whereas the community has come up with a solution but needs help from this province to correct this huge mistake;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly call upon the Government of Nova Scotia to aid the community of Digby and if not, at least give Digby your blessings for the pie sales it will be holding because we will get the wharf back with or without your help.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled. (Interruptions)

Order, please. There's too much chatter in the Chamber.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 965

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas generations have enjoyed the Centennial Arena as a source of entertainment and activity for the community; and

Whereas Jack Poteri has managed and maintained the arena, providing a well- maintained environment for figure skaters, hockey and ringette players to develop their skill and love of skating; and

Whereas Jack's kindness and generosity does not end at the rink, and, for many years, cars have lined Gesner Street for children of all ages to enjoy his holiday display of lights;

[Page 1861]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the contributions Jack Poteri has made to his community and wish him every success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 1862]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:49 p.m. and end at 1:49 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREM.: IT SYSTEM - BIDDING PROCESS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question this afternoon will be for the Premier, through you, of course. Nova Scotians are paying for a cost overrun of almost $20 million on this government's new computer system for Human Resources. This system has already cost at least four times the original budget and it is nowhere near completed. This was bought on the basis of an unsolicited proposal without a competitive bidding process, without first the client defining clear and measurable benefits. People would expect the government has learned a costly lesson.

My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier is, can the Premier assure Nova Scotians that his government will not repeat the costly error of outsourcing a new information technology system without an open process and without clear measurable benefits?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite and all members, I can assure the members we are investing in the future of all Nova Scotians. This will be on-line in January 2007. There will be more accountability, better service, more efficiency for all Nova Scotians.

MR. DEXTER: At five times the cost. At five times the anticipated cost. I would like to table a presentation to deputy ministers that is dated September 19, 2006. It outlines a plan by this government to centralize all information technology into a new organization and then to outsource it. The strategy is clearly identified on Page 10 of the presentation under the heading, Centralize Before Outsourcing. There is every reason to believe that another unsolicited proposal is the inspiration for this plan which proposes a fast transition so the new central organization can start on April 1st and then the outsource. So my question to the Premier is, can the Premier explain how taxpayers are going to be protected from yet another huge cost overrun if this government rushes forward with this scheme?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the minister responsible.

[Page 1863]

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure you and all members of the House that we already had an existing contract with this company. The same company had a contract with HRM here in this province. They're a credible company and they're doing an excellent job for Nova Scotians; and it will be on-line early in 2007.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is a plan to centralize and then outsource important government functions without any discussion on the plan. These kinds of decisions should be discussed publicly, given careful consideration before they are approved, yet the government has not reported this plan in any public document. The people who will pay the price are being kept in the dark. Worse, the presentation claims the cost will be $1 million, maximum, to be spent during the first five months of the transition period. It's very hard to believe. My final question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier set the plan aside and focus instead on putting an end to the serious and costly problems that it has already encountered with the new IT systems.

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that some people in the House here live under a dark cloud because to them, the sky is falling. This government is open and transparent. We're doing things to better the lifestyles of Nova Scotians and we're making investments wisely for the morrow of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: GAS REGULATION - INCREASE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as many drivers and consumers have found out today, gas prices in the Province of Nova Scotia have gone up by anywhere from four to five cents per litre, from 89.9 cents a litre to 94.9 cents per litre. Now, given that our two systems are supposedly very similar, you would certainly think that a similar increase would have taken place in New Brunswick. However, that is clearly not the case. Gas in New Brunswick went up by only 0.8 cents, from a maximum of 89.9 cents to 90.7 cents per litre, meaning that gas in New Brunswick will now be at least four cents less than here in Nova Scotia.

My question to the Premier, why are you forcing our consumers to pay so much more for gas than in other provinces in our region?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, gas prices did rise here in Nova Scotia today, they went up about four cents a litre. That was as a result of the open and transparent method in which the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations uses to determine the price of gas.

[Page 1864]

Incidentally, not that I would ever like to recognize this gentleman, but I did notice that a columnist in the Daily News actually could figure out what it was going to go up to. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, what it illustrates is that you would know that the differential in the tax structure between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia would exactly account for that difference and if you were to look at the price of gas outside of taxes, you would probably find that ours may, indeed, be just a little cheaper.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, there are only the Tories and the NDP in this province who think that 94.9 cents a litre is cheap for anyone in this province. Regulation has given consumers in this province higher gas prices, it has given us instability with our rural retailers as to which ones will stay open and which ones will stay closed.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians want their rural stations open and they want lower prices. Gas regulation is clearly giving them neither of these. Last September, the Premier joined former Premier John Hamm in concluding that gas regulation was not in the province's best interests after the Gardner Pinfold report. The conclusions of that report now have proven true in our province - higher gas prices, instability and rural stations facing closure.

My question to the Premier is, why do you continue to support a regulated system that creates higher gas prices for all Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate that the type of information, non-correct information which comes from the other side, from the Liberal Party, suggesting that somehow he knows what the price of gasoline would be under an unregulated market today.

The reality is that the government has made clear commitments on the issue of doing an independent review. We will do that, Mr. Speaker. We have been very clear on the government's stand with respect to the issue of regulation.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this Premier was clear last September when he said that regulation was bad and he is clear today when he says he supports higher gas prices for the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier brought this system upon himself and his government. It is the Premier who brought higher prices onto consumers, which no one wanted. It is the Premier who brought the instability with wholesalers and retailers, forcing some retailers to go without supply. It is the Premier who put our province at a competitive disadvantage with our neighbours in New Brunswick.

Mr. Premier, you have brought this upon us all because you were gullible enough to listen to the Leader of the NDP. (Interruption) My final supplementary to the Premier

[Page 1865]

is, when will you table in this House the details of the upcoming review of gas regulation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is clear what the people of Nova Scotia decided, and that was that the policies of the Progressive Conservative Party and this government were the policies that they wanted to move forward in the next number of years as a province.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN.: IT PROJECT - STATUS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the Minister of Economic Development has only rhetoric to offer on this issue, so I'm going to direct my question to the Minister of Finance, whose department, after all, is leading the information technology project. The Leader of the Opposition has just tabled a document showing that outsourcing or privatization of information technology is being seriously considered at the highest levels of government. This is astonishing, considering that the government's Human Resources IT project, known as eMerge, has been led by a private sector supplier and is now almost $20 million over budget and two years late.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minster is, why is this government continuing to dump millions and millions of dollars into a project that is already so late and so far over budget?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Thank you, I will refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, he is still under that dark cloud. I guess I have answered the question, apparently he doesn't hear it.

MR. STEELE: You know, this is too important for that kind of rhetoric. Mr. Speaker. You would think the government would have learned its lesson about outsourcing the information technology function. The eMerge project has been, quite simply, a budgetary disaster, but the government can still not guarantee that this runaway train, which started with an unsolicited private sector proposal and which was continued without a public tender, won't need more public money. Now, apparently, it's too late for the government to back out.

[Page 1866]

Mr. Speaker, when will the minister table the current project plan showing when the project will be completed and showing how much more money is going to be needed to make the system work?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated to all members of the House that this system will be on-line in January. Now, how much clearer does the member want?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm quite seriously going to direct this final question to the Minister of Finance, because it's obvious that the Minister of Economic Development has only rhetoric to offer on this very important issue. It's that minister's department that is leading this project. I do not understand, we do not understand why it's being sent over to a minister who clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.

Mr. Speaker, this eMerge project has been a budgetary disaster, and yet the document tabled by the Leader of the Opposition shows the government has not only not learned its lesson, but is seriously considering doing more of the same - a lot more of the same. My final question, to the Minister of Finance, when will this government show that it has learned its lesson from the eMerge disaster, and put the proposal to centralize and then outsource the information technology function of government in the shredder, where it belongs?

MR. BAKER: I would refer that matter to the Minister of Economic Development.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure that member and all members of this House that this member understands the process, but what that member cannot understand is that we're looking at the future for Nova Scotians. Now, if they would get out from under that dark cloud, I think maybe they could see the picture, themselves. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC.: MED. STUDENTS - LOAN RELIEF

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question now will be for the Minister of Education, through you, of course. Each year, many young Nova Scotian medical students face the prospect of undertaking their residency. This can be a very difficult and stressful part of their medical education. Added to that burden is the continuing struggle to pay off their private student loans, which are often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In addition to their massive private loans, many of these young people have provincial student loans. Despite the fact that residency is a required part of their

[Page 1867]

education, they are forced into repayment six months into their residency. My question to the minister is, why won't her government lift this unnecessary and unfair burden from the shoulders of these young medical students?

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, the whole question of relief for medical students is one that is being addressed. Individually I've met with students from the medical group who are those young people going out to do residency. We've talked about coming to some agreement as to how we can provide some relief for that interest and we'll continue to work with them along with the Department of Health on a solution.

MR. DEXTER: Well, talk is cheap - what we need here in this House is some action on behalf of the medical students. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is not so short-sighted. They consider residency to be part of the students' in-study period and do not force residents into loan repayment. Quite frankly, this is not a large cost to government - it would be in the neighbourhood of about $50,000 a year for this province to take the needed step. So my question again to the Minister of Education is, when will you recognize that your government is literally helping to drive aspiring doctors out of the province with your refusal to change this policy?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, if I could, I object to the comment that we are not willing to look at that or not willing to change that. We are currently in the process of reviewing that and looking at something that will be of assistance to the students and within our budget. Thank you.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my final question is to the Minister of Health. In 1999, the government promised bursaries for medical students. Still, today, they have not delivered - perhaps it wasn't in writing. Your Cabinet colleague refuses to change the wrong-headed policy with respect to student loan repayments, so my question is, what message is your government trying to send about the value that it places on the recruitment of young doctors to our medical community?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing this issue to the floor of the Legislature. As the Minister of Education did talk about, we are in conversation. We've had a number of talks to see how we're able to put this together. We value our medical students very much, that's why we have expanded to 90 seats at Dal Medical School, why we've expanded by another 90 seats of residency across the province. We'll continue to support those residencies through the Department of Health with the help of the Department of Education to make sure these young, bright and inspiring minds stay here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 1868]

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: GAS REG. COMMENTS - RETRACT

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this Chamber, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations stood up and alleged a well-respected corporate citizen of this province had "chosen to punish the smallest distributors in rural stations." The company in question, Wilsons, a Nova Scotia success story, was the only company in many cases that was prepared to take the risk and supply gas to these stations, while at the same time continually trying to provide the lowest price possible to Nova Scotia consumers. This company, and all companies in Nova Scotia, deserve better than to have a Minister of the Crown speak ill of them for an action that in this case the government clearly forced them into. Therefore, my question to the minister is, Mr. Minister, will you admit today that you were wrong in the comments you made yesterday and retract the allegations you made against Wilsons?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, what I will tell the House and the honourable member is that Wilsons is one of the best 50 managed companies in Canada. In my town of Truro, it is one of the leading corporate citizens, there's no question. The corporate citizenry of the Wilson family is unquestioned in this province and in some cases unparalleled, their generosity, but having said that, you know, the company did refuse to deliver gas. I was providing information by staff and I stand by the information that staff gave me.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the minister did not stop at those comments yesterday. The minister continued this character assassination by stating that the company in question told his department, "We'll put a bullet in their head, as a protest against regulation.", apparently when referring to rural retailers. The minister who made these comments, fully knowing that he had immunity from his comments in this Chamber, would not repeat them outside the House.

Mr. Speaker, parliamentary immunity was never meant to be a protection for ministers to make drive-by smear attacks against a Nova Scotia company. Dave Collins, on behalf of Wilsons, has rejected the minister's allegation. Therefore, I ask the minister again, are you prepared today, after stating that you never heard these comments directly, to withdraw the unfounded attacks you made against Wilsons Fuel yesterday?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have no interest in inflaming the situation further. What we're interested in is moving forward to ensure that Nova Scotians get fair gas prices. Do you know what, and to be quite frank, I hope those allegations, you know, that the information that was given to me, as I say, I rely on it and if they were taken out of context, then I hope they would be clarified.

MR. SAMSON: You know, what's next? How much more is it going to take for this government to realize regulation has been a failure? We have higher prices. Now you've got a minister who has gone in this Chamber, refused to say what he said outside,

[Page 1869]

and attacked an upstanding Nova Scotia company and he has the gall to stand in this Chamber and say what a wonderful company it is, but pay no attention to the smear attack I made against them yesterday. How much more embarrassment does this government have to face before realizing that regulation is a failure and who will be blamed next. So I ask the Premier, does the Premier stand by the attacks made yesterday by his minister against Wilson Fuel?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the price of gasoline is due to be reset today and it was. I'm pleased to tell the House I've been informed by my staff that the stations that had gas delivery denied to them have been fully reinstated.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

EDUC.: STUDENT LOAN SYSTEM - CHANGE

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Stephanie Eisan is a typical Nova Scotian studying out-of-province. She has a crushing student debt already but is determined to make a career in her chosen field of nuclear engineering. I will table a letter which outlines her many problems with our student loan system. When she started her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie, she was deemed ineligible for loans because her parents apparently made too much money. This forced Stephanie to get private bank loans with high interest rates and inflexible repayment terms. So I ask the minister, when will you change the Nova Scotia student loan system to stop punishing working families whose children want to pursue a higher education?

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I believe that the member opposite would recognize that there has been an adjustment made in the amount of financial support and financial income that is deemed appropriate for an application process.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, I'm surprised that the minister finds it adequate because we have students leaving the province for that reason and students not going to university because of that. The high-interest bank loans with the mandatory monthly interest payments aren't the end of Stephanie's student loan woes. After leaving Dalhousie to attend a university in Ontario, Stephanie became independent and, therefore, became ineligible for government loans. She has received nearly $30,000 in government loans so far and is $80,000 in debt in total. When she took the opportunity to participate in a co-op work program this year, she was forced into repayment despite the fact that she has one year to go before completing her studies. So I ask the minister,

[Page 1870]

why is your government so inflexible? Why is it taking you so long to recognize that residency and co-op work are often essential parts of an educational program?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, if I could, to the member opposite, I will repeat that the adjustment in parental income has been made. That should make more students eligible for our student loan, either Nova Scotia or federal, and also that we have debt relief initiatives and incentives that will be an asset to students upon completion of their graduation.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, that question wasn't about adjustment. I will quote from Stephanie's letter. She says, "I feel backed into a corner now that I am expected to pay when I have not completed my studies and therefore do not yet receive an income capable of supporting such a debt . . . I do not want to ruin my credit rating and I do not want to have to quit the education that I have worked so hard for." Can you explain to Stephanie why she should be forced to quit her education because of your government's policies?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I have not and will not discuss an individual's situation in the House, but I would be glad to sit down with the member opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

HEALTH CARE: PRIVATIZATION - EFFECTS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Health. Canadians built the public health care system so that all people would have equal access to care, regardless of how much money they had. This system is now under attack through the introduction of a two-tier for-profit system that allows wealthier people the opportunity to buy their way through the problem of wait lists. The Minister of Health has stated everything is on the table when it comes to health care, but has not shown any evidence that the introduction of private facilities will improve the high quality of health care that Nova Scotians currently receive. So I ask the minister, will you now table the evidence that private for-profit health care facilities will improve health care for all Nova Scotians?

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing to the Legislature that we have a good health care system, a quality health care system. I've said before that we will work by the virtues of the Canada Health Act and the policies and thoughts that are within.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, what we want to hear from the minister is how he's going to protect the public health care system here in Nova

[Page 1871]

Scotia. Not only do private health care clinics mean unequal access to care, but they also mean that the public services are no longer in the hands of the public. Private health care facilities combine decreased accountability with a lack of transparency. So my question to the Minister of Health is, what is your government going to do to protect the public health care that Canadians have worked so hard for?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite. We remain committed to the public health system, of course, the principles of the Canada Health Act. We continue to monitor and study and make changes to our health system here in Nova Scotia to make sure that we have quality and safe, effective health care for all Nova Scotians.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the fear is these changes will introduce private health care to our province - what Nova Scotians don't want. The minister recently mentioned the introduction of a private flair to the Nova Scotia health care system. So I ask the minister, how are you going to explain to the thousands of Nova Scotians waiting currently on the wait list for health care services that they can buy their way to the top of the list, but for those Nova Scotians who can't afford it they will have to continue to wait?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well that he's fear-mongering and trying to scare Nova Scotians to believing that they do not have one of the best health care systems in Canada. I have said before that we believe in the principles of the Canada Health Act. We believe in a public pay system, and that system is will continue to thrive here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

COM. SERV.: CHILD CARE PLAN - DETAILS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In May 2006, this government was proud to introduce their new 10-year child care plan. The Department of Community Services put out a colourful, one-page brochure on the details of this extensive 10-year plan - one page to describe the 10-year vision for child care in this province. The child care providers in this province aren't convinced that this government is committed to child care. In fact, some of this province's child care providers went to a conference in Ottawa over the summer and were embarrassed to bring forward a one-page plan from Nova Scotia, while other provinces were bringing forward 40 to 50-page reports on their province's detailed plans for child care. So my question is, how can the minister say that a one-page brochure on child care can communicate a 10-year vision for this province?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, while I could go on ad nauseam about the 10-year phenomenal plan, I will simply state that it was indeed the federal minister

[Page 1872]

who requested the information about the Nova Scotia plan from us so that she could use our plan for the benefit of the entire country.

MR. MCNEIL: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, the federal minister will tell Nova Scotia child care providers about the plan, then, if this government is unwilling to. One of the most embarrassing points of this one-page brochure is the section entitled "Keeping Parents Informed in Streamlining the Process". The department is encouraging parents to get informed by checking their Web site. Well, there is little to no information on the details of the province's child care plan on the department's Web site. Often it says, "more information will be available as this program is developed".

Surely if this government has done the extensive consultation with stakeholders that it indicated, then parents and child care providers in this province can soon expect a more detailed plan for child care. So my question is, when can we expect that comprehensive, 10-year child care plan?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I know that the honourable member is indeed concerned and sincere about his request. We're pleased to announce the 150 subsidized spaces. That's a step in the right direction. We announced the renovation and repair expansion grants. That's a step in the right direction. Those have gone out.

We will continue to roll out the family home care, Mr. Speaker. We are on time with our timelines. This is a 10-year plan but we will have it up and running in four years, in its full complement, and we will sustain it because that is the key to a successful, made-in-Nova Scotia plan.

MR. MCNEIL: It is typical of this government to spend more time on public relations surrounding the issues in this province than they spend on details of the programs. If child care providers in this province are embarrassed, surely the minister must be embarrassed by the state of their government's child care plan. So my question is, you must be embarrassed about the lack of detail parents and child care workers can find when it comes to your child care plan.

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I will stand in my place any day and defend the phenomenal individuals who work across this province to ensure quality child care for Nova Scotian families. I am extremely proud of them and proud of my department. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

TCH: RV TRAVELLERS - PARKING BAN

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. I will table a page from rvtravel.com's discussion room. The chat

[Page 1873]

thread is titled, "Nova Scotia doesn't want you, just stay in New Brunswick." RV travel is down 13 per cent this year and 15 per cent overall last year, certainly echoing the feelings of these discussion topics. News of the ban on parking in in-store parking lots in our province has spread like wildfire on international RV forums.

My question for the minister is, why is his department allowing this important group of tourists to get the message that our province doesn't want them?

HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you very much to the member opposite for a very important question. On the Tourist Accommodations Act, which the RV situation is governed under - I am not sure where the member opposite is getting the facts from that RVs are not permitted to park in anything other than an RV park because that is not correct. Under the Tourist Accommodations Act, RVs are only regulated when they are parked in for-profit parks. So that particular situation is not correct and we have, through numerous correspondence to owners and associations, told the individuals and the groups of this situation.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I believe the minister is wrong. I will quote from a document I tabled from a couple in Virginia. "We went to Nova Scotia in 2000 between May 15th and June 15th. If it hadn't been for the freedom to park anywhere we wanted to, we would have been in trouble. The parks don't open until June 15th . . ." This issue is not just about where RVs are allowed to park, it is about the dismal act of services for them in our province - few rest stops, septic dumping stations and bad roads. My question to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage again is, when is his government going to make Nova Scotia an RV-friendly province?

MR. GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, without question, the Province of Nova Scotia is extremely proud of its assets within the tourism industry and RVs are welcome in this province. That is a fact. That is being corresponded and we are very proud of that fact.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'll table one more printout from RVs Net's travel forum that says, "The situation never remains static in a province preoccupied with honing the limits of inhospitality to a fine art." My final question to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage is, how can the province turn the sagging tourism numbers around if this is the kind of reputation we have among the RV travellers?

MR. GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, I guess the member opposite wasn't here when we stood up last month to relay the September figures which increased in every reporting area of this province. Tourism in this province is on the go, it is growing, and it will continue to grow. Nova Scotia is a wonderful province for everybody to visit, including our friends in the RV industry.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 1874]

EDUC.: UNIVERSITY ENROLMENTS - DECLINE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. University enrolments in the Province of Nova Scotia have declined substantially; in fact, roughly 859 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate degree programs. This represents the single largest drop in enrolment. What is more troublesome is that other Atlantic Provinces are benefitting from Nova Scotia's decreasing enrolments. In 2004, 443 Nova Scotia students attended Memorial University and this year approximately 850 students. My question to the minister, what are the minister and this government doing to stop declining enrolments and encourage Nova Scotia students to stay in the province?

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite and to all members of this House, changing demographics in this province are a reality. We have 2,000 fewer students graduating from Grade 12. That obviously means that we have fewer students going on to university, but we have incentives that we're looking at by, first of all, reducing tuition to bring it to the national average. That's a commitment that was made by our government and the announcement recently about the beginning of that should be good news for students in Nova Scotia.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the Province of Nova Scotia certainly has among the finest post-secondary institutions in the country. (Applause) We all agree, I think, on that one. Several of these institutions, such as Acadia, St. Francis Xavier, and Mount Saint Vincent, offer two-year Bachelor of Education programs. However, not only do these universities turn away many students because of limited capacity, they also offer two-year Education programs. Other universities, such as St. Thomas University, University of Maine at Fort Kent in Presque Isle, and Memorial University offer one-year teaching programs. Universities outside the province continue to attract Nova Scotian students because of more enrolment capacity in one-year programs.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. GLAVINE: My question to the minister is, will the minister set up a review committee of Nova Scotia B.Ed. programs to not only increase the number of institutions and students they accept, but also to discuss the possibility of restoring one-year B.Ed. programs in Nova Scotia?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the question regarding review of teacher education and Bachelor of Education programs, obviously a number one priority for me. I already had beginning discussions with boards, with unions and with universities, and we will continue to look at program needs and also the needs of our students in Nova Scotia.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the ripple effects of teaching supply is no better exemplified in our secondary institutions. As of August 31st, this year, nearly 950 teachers in Nova Scotia retired, since the end of last school year. Furthermore, there

[Page 1875]

were approximately 600 retirements in the previous school year. Term teachers and substitutes are in short supply and professional development days are now being cancelled. The NSTU is looking at extending post-retirement teaching days. If this government cannot commit to re-evaluating the province's B.Ed. Programs, then at the very least this government can abolish the discriminatory mandatory retirement policies that are currently in place. My question to the minister is, is the minister prepared to review the current mandatory retirement process so that teachers and support staff can continue to work beyond the age of 65?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, we have had some preliminary discussions about this with school boards. The mandatory retirement age is a school board policy, but it's something that we're ever mindful of. Some boards do have that as a requirement, others do not, but if it has a direct impact on the supply, it will be something we will consider.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COM. SERV.: SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANCE - QUALIFICATIONS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Community Services. Art Younger, who is in our gallery today is a resident of my constituency. He has cerebral palsy and he's visually impaired and he requires a motorized scooter to get around. Now as you can imagine, technical aids like scooters require regular maintenance and repairs. In August of this year, Mr. Younger, who receives ESIA, asked the Department of Community Services to assist him with a needed repair to his scooter that would cost $275, but he was refused assistance and he was told he had to provide two written letters, proving he had asked churches or charities for help instead. My question for the Minister of Community Services is, why does your department insist on making people with special needs jump through hoops before they qualify for special needs assistance?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, thank you to my honourable colleague across the way for bringing this issue. I certainly would have preferred if my honourable colleague had brought it to me personally, instead of bringing it to the floor of this Legislature, because I can't speak about the specifics of any individual case, but I would be more than pleased to discuss this with the honourable member in a more private venue.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, discussions on Irene Larkin, privately, didn't get many results. This is a policy issue. Mr. Younger has approached the United Way of Halifax, St. Vincent de Paul and the Canadian Paraplegic Association. The United Way have told him they don't support individuals directly. The Canadian

[Page 1876]

Paraplegic Association only provides assistance to people who are paraplegics, and St. Vincent de Paul, which does great work with limited resources, is unable to help Mr. Younger. So I'd like to ask the minister to explain, why does she think churches and charities have the necessary resources to meet the special needs of people with disabilities, who are clients of her department?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, thank you to my honourable colleague across the way for the opportunity to stand and certainly acknowledge the phenomenal work that does go on across this province by all sorts of service delivery, service groups and phenomenal volunteers. Along with the tremendous support that this government and the Department of Community Services delivers to Nova Scotians and again, while I won't speak to the specifics of any case because that would be highly irresponsible on my part, I certainly would speak with this member and any individual in a private manner.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, what is even more incredible about the Department of Community Services' special needs policy is that if Mr. Younger's repairs were $200 or less, he wouldn't be put through this ridiculous process. So my final question for the minister is why, for the sake of $75, are people like Mr. Younger and organizations like St. Vincent de Paul put in this unfair situation?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Community Services represents a $748 million budget. It is a phenomenal commitment on behalf of this government to the people of Nova Scotia. We spend that money wisely. Again, to my honourable colleague, if she has a very specific case that she would like to discuss with me, I would be pleased to do that in a private manner, where it is appropriate, respecting the privacy of all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

IMMIGRATION: N.S. NOMINEE PROG. - STATUS

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Immigration. On July 1st, the minister's office took full responsibility for the administration and delivery of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program, some of which had previously been handled by Cornwallis Financial. On July 11th, during a meeting of the Subcommittee of the Whole House on Supply, the minister told me that his office was unable to come to a mutual agreement with Cornwallis regarding the program and decided not to renew the contract.

Now that this business relationship is in the media for all the wrong reasons again, the minister should apprise the House of the current position with regard to the Nova Scotia Nominee Program. So I would like to ask the minister, how many entrepreneurs are still waiting to have their mentor programs arranged by the province?

[Page 1877]

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Office of Immigration has assumed full responsibility for the Nominee Program and it is functioning as usual. It is business as usual for the Nominee Program. The economic stream is something that is under review, we have committed to do a complete review. The immigration strategy, and our agreement with the federal government, calls for us to do a complete review in 2007 and that is all part of that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. PREYRA: It is clear that the minister doesn't know how many entrepreneurs are still stuck in the program and while they are reviewing the program, many of these entrepreneurs are living in poverty.

Mr. Speaker, emigrating to another country with a new culture is stressful at the best of times. Without criticizing the change in policy, I think it is important to note that having to adopt to a changing immigration policy would add to that stress, so I would like to ask the minister, to what extent is the court action reported in today's newspapers going to delay the administration of this program and the resolution of these outstanding cases?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, it is business as usual with the Nominee Program. We have reached our 400 nominees for the fiscal year; we are allowed only that many. Again, in 2007, we will begin reviewing applications again.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, business as usual is not what we want and it is not what all these entrepreneurs are waiting for. Her earlier answer at least said that it was being reviewed.

Mr. Speaker, almost every day the Nova Scotia business community tells us of its fears of worker shortages. We are constantly hearing about shortages in the construction sector, in the transport sector, in rural Nova Scotia, and in the information technology sector. Everyone knows how difficult it is for our health service to attract enough doctors and nurses. So my final question to the minister is, when is she going to introduce skilled worker policies that will help us meet skill shortages through targeted immigration?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: In the Nominee Program, there will be several new streams coming on-side, as well as the family identified, as well as an international student stream. These are all aspects of the Nominee Program that will be improved on in the 2007 fiscal year.

MR. SPEAKER: The much-anticipated member for Digby-Annapolis.

COM. SERV.: HOUSING - INCOME THRESHOLD

[Page 1878]

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Community Services. Digby-Annapolis has a large number of seniors and working people living below the poverty line. These people try to survive the best they can on their own. But, once in awhile they need some support from government. Some of these people are living in conditions you wouldn't want your dog living in. According to the income limit set by the Department of Community Services, if these people make over $19,000 per year they don't qualify to receive any financial help from the department. Many say the policy is outdated and this $19,000 income limit should be much higher.

My question is, has the Department of Community Services considered raising the income level to help more of our low-income people with housing grants?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague across the way, I thank him for the question and looked forward to the question coming forward today. As we've discussed numerous times on the floor of this Legislature, the income threshold for the menu and variety of programs that we offer here in Nova Scotia are set by the federal government through the CMHC. I'd like to acknowledge to this honourable member that I have discussed with my federal counterparts and I will continue to press my federal counterparts to increase those thresholds.

As well, I'd like to let my honourable colleague know that I've asked our staff if we could increase the level for the provincial threshold as we did last year when we raised it from $18,500 to $22,000. That was a commitment on this government and I've asked my department to investigate if we can continue with that, keeping in mind that we - okay, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, we have many seniors and low-income people who don't even make the $19,000. Some folks I know have an income of $12,000 and $15,000, even $6,000 and $7,000 per year. Can you imagine taking care of yourself, let alone small children and elderly parents and trying to maintain and repair your home on this income? I've been told that some of these people have been on a waiting list for over three years, waiting for home repair grants. This is far too long to wait for this much-needed help. My question is, what does the Minister of Community Services plan to do to shorten the wait list for home repairs to ensure people are not living in these unlivable situations?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, that's where I was going with the tail end of my last response. We have to be very careful that we don't pressure the system more than it can stand. I'm pleased to let this member know that we did increase the program by an additional $1 million to the Department of Health. So, that was a $4.5 million increase so we now have in excess of $14 million for senior repair programs across the province. It will be brought forward in next year's budget to examine if indeed we can provide a little bit more cushion within those loan areas.

[Page 1879]

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I've talked to some people in housing, the money doesn't seem to be the problem, the funding is not the problem. The problem seems to be that there's applications piling up on a desk and they haven't enough staff to get through these piles of applications. My question is, will the minister review the problems associated with a lack of sufficient staff and commit to hiring more staff to deal with these backlogs?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I know my honourable colleague recognizes that the staff who work across the province with regard to these repairs and renovations in housing are a phenomenal group of individuals. Certainly they do their very best. We review on a regular basis the applications that come in and as part and parcel of our review annually, we'll make sure that the pressures are being resolved in whatever form that may take.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

WOMEN - STATUS OF: ADOPTIONS - PARENTAL LEAVE

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Proposed changes to parental leave rules for public servants and public sector employees will reduce the parental leave for women who adopt children from the standard 17 weeks to 12 weeks. This means adoptive mothers will lose five weeks of benefits should these changes be passed by Cabinet. My question for the minister is, how can she justify a plan that takes five weeks of paid benefits from adoptive mothers?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. The entire issue of bringing fairness to the issue of natural and adoptive parents has been one we have been negotiating with the different unionized bargaining units across Nova Scotia. We have achieved an agreement that brings parity and fairness to it. With that, part of that is transferring it to the non-bargaining units or the managers, MCP, across the system. That has been completed, and we look forward to having a standardized fair policy for adoptee and natural parents across the Public Service.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, you shouldn't have to bargain parental rights like that. This is just one more example of your government undermining its own stated objectives. What a message this change will send for Adoption Month. This government should be putting in supportive rules to help all workers who adopt children to have equitable rights to parental leave regardless of gender. Instead, the female workers will lose five weeks of benefits. So my question again to the Minister responsible for the

[Page 1880]

Advisory Council on the Status of Women is, what assurances can she give that this negative change will not be put into place?

[1:45 p.m.]

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: I refer that to the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, it's extremely important to treat all public servants fairly and make sure that the rules are the same for everyone. Through the collective bargaining process we have achieved that fairness, that agreement, and a number of new benefits were achieved for bargaining and non-bargaining employees. This is part of that package. I would think the member opposite would be proud of the position that the unions that work for the Public Service of Nova Scotia took, and pleased with the agreement they achieved.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I doubt those women who have adopted children willingly gave up those rights. So this government has a choice. They can extend fair and equitable parental leave benefits to all public sector employees who adopt a child, or they can pass this unfair change. Research by one employee shows over six women adopted children last year, so the budgetary savings of this change would be minimal. My question to the minister is, why not improve rather than reduce or take away parental benefits for public sector workers who adopt children?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the issue of collective bargaining and fairness is one that is important to this government and the members on this side of the House. We respect the negotiating process. We've achieved some large gains for our staff and employees. One of the things that was added in the policy to achieve fairness for the management employees, as well, was the addition for biological fathers of a 12-week leave. That's a huge gain, and it puts fairness between adoptive and natural birth parents, as well as it brought parity between the unionized staff and the management staff in the Public Service.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

HUM. RES.: CIVIL SERV. RETIREMENTS - ADDRESS

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources. Much has been said of the looming and current skill shortages our province has faced. The situation is made particularly challenging by the outward migration of youth who are attracted by better prospects in Alberta, but there is another dimension to

[Page 1881]

this problem, particularly within the provincial Public Service, which is aging quite rapidly. As of 2004, more than 34 per cent of the Civil Service were 50 or older. This means that 2,000 civil servants could retire within the next few years. Despite this, there is no obvious effort being made by your government to deal with this situation. So I ask the minister, why are you failing to take seriously the needs to renew our Civil Service?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member does point out an important thing for all Nova Scotians and for the government to realize, that approximately 50 per cent of our employees will be eligible for some type of retirement over the next several years. That's why this government has put in place co-op programs, programs to bring students on and making ourselves one of the preferred employers for all of Nova Scotia. The Public Service is respected, it's a great place . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources on an introduction.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. During Question Period I was very pleased to see a constituent of mine, along with a group of colleagues, Anna-Maria Galante has just joined us. She comes from Coldbrook and they have completed their walk to draw attention to climate change here to the Legislature. Before I ask them to all get up and accept the warm greeting of the House, which I think they got anyway but I think they're going to get it again, I would like to personally thank her for arranging to bring the Al Gore movie - An Inconvenient Truth - back to the Empire Theatres in New Minas. I know many people took it in because of her initiative, including my wife and myself, and we appreciate all that you're doing to bring attention to this matter. If you could please stand up and accept the warm greetings of the House - all of you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture on an introduction.

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm very honoured and privileged this afternoon to rise in my place and, through you to all members of the Legislature, introduce a very fine friend of all members in the House, a former Minister of Agriculture but beyond that, a pillar of the community of North River and a longtime MLA for Colchester North (Interruption) A Hall of Famer, yes, a Hall of Famer, he was inducted into the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, a man who really needs no introduction but he is sitting in the Speaker's Gallery and I would ask the honourable Ed Lorraine to please rise and receive a round welcome from everybody in the Legislature. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: It is, indeed, always a pleasure to welcome a former member back to the Legislature.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova on an introduction.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today in the west gallery we have two fine people from Cape Breton enjoying the proceedings; Mike MacSween and Jamie Crane. I would like to see a warm welcome in the House and they enjoy today's proceedings. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Immigration on an introduction.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery I would like to introduce four students from Hebbville Academy who are enjoying the in-service day and taking part in the proceedings of the House: Kelsey Getson, Hannah Harlow, Conrad Getson and Jacob Wile. I'd ask that we extend a warm welcome to the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome all visitors to the gallery today.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would also like to send my welcome. The Minister of Immigration failed to mention that of those four students, two of them are her own children and they are here today to watch their mother.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 80.

Bill No. 80 - Canadian Forces Reservists Civilian Employment Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 1883]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is with great pleasure and pride that I move second reading of Bill No. 80. I'm going to have a chance to speak a little more on this later. I think it's important for two reasons. First of all, the objects of the bill, I think, are important. It's going to provide protections to individuals who decide to serve this country in their capacity as reserve members of the Canadian Armed Forces and I know, as an individual who served in the Armed Forces and who worked with Reserves, I appreciate the work that they do, the scope, the depth of their commitment to the Armed Forces. That's the first reason why this bill is important.

The second reason that it's important is, I remember the day, not that long ago, when the Minister responsible for Military Relations was appointed. On that day, I stood here in my place and I said to the Premier and to the government and to the minister that I was very pleased that this appointment had been made and that although I was appointed the Critic for Military Relations, it was indeed my hope that I would be able to stand and to work with the government in order to improve military relations. I believe that the government's willingness to bring forward this important piece of legislation is, I think, proof of the fact that they recognize that the willingness for us to participate in making the role of the minister's office substantive and the role of this government with respect to military relations was part of the commitment that we were going to live up to.

So with those brief comments to begin with - and I'm going to look forward to speaking on this bill again - I'm pleased that the bill is going on to second reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as Critic for our Party for Military Relations, I rise in support of this bill and I'm only going to speak for a few moments. I can understand why the bill is here and I can understand the motives of the Leader of the Opposition, a former naval person of some years ago and I can certainly stand here and say that I, like he, was proud to serve in the Canadian Navy and although I've spent most of my time, if not all of it, in the Reserves.

I did, at that particular time, want to take some time in the summer to do active duty with the Royal Canadian Navy and later the Canadian Armed Forces and had to rely on the benevolence of my employer of the day, which was the City of Sydney, when I worked in Community Services, to let me go for extended periods of time. I was fortunate enough to have that happen. But I think there should be some type of law that states that people who want to serve, particularly overseas or something, with the Reserve forces, that they're not penalized by their civilian employee, upon return. That to me is something that I believe its time has come. We should have some protection for reservists.

[Page 1884]

I was fortunate to be able to spend 14 years and lot of that was accompanied by a lot of travelling in the summertime and sometimes on engagements during other times, during the year, with the Royal Canadian Navy and it was, again, on the benevolence of my employer. Unfortunately, in 1978, I had to take a retirement from my commission as an officer because I was elected Mayor of Sydney and after that it would be kind of difficult for me to ask myself to get some time off to go serve with the Armed Forces. So I called it a day in 1978 and took my retirement, but I was proud to have received my Canadian Forces Decoration before I did that. So I stand here as a proud member of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve Alumni Association and also certainly stand in support of the Leader of the Opposition's bill here today. It's a bill that I think gives the kind of protection to reservists that they deserve. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to rise today and speak in regard to Bill No. 80, the Canadian Forces Reservists Civilian Employment Act. I'm rising to offer my support and the government's support for reservists in Nova Scotia.

As the Minister responsible for Military Relations in Nova Scotia, I'm pleased to support this bill, Bill No. 80. As a government, we recognize the valuable work that our reservists play within Canada's military family and within their communities. Examples of their selfless service, including assisting with recovery operations with Swissair and helping their fellow Nova Scotians recover from the devastation of Hurricane Juan and the blizzard that struck this province, are good examples of that dedication. We need to ensure that our actions match our words, by enacting legislation such as Bill No. 80.

Mr. Speaker, our reservists are well-known for their sense of volunteerism. When the ice storm struck Central Canada in the late 1990s, the military asked the Reserve soldiers, sailors and Air Force personnel to assist their fellow Canadians in Southern Ontario and Quebec; double the number of Nova Scotia reservists volunteered than was expected. In 1997, Nova Scotian reservists stood shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues, their sisters-and-brothers-in-arms, to assist the victims of the Manitoba floods. Our Nova Scotians in uniform have a proud legacy of always answering this call to duty.

When reservists volunteer to serve on missions overseas, there are many more challenges they must face in addition to the uncertainty and dangers of their mission. I include the welfare of their families and their loved ones and, not least, the status of their jobs and their careers when they accept a mission abroad.

As our Armed Forces work to maintain our troop commitments to foreign missions such as Sudan, Bosnia, Sinai, and Afghanistan, we need to do our part to support our nation by doing all we can so that Nova Scotian reservists are comfortable

[Page 1885]

in volunteering to leave their jobs or schooling by protecting their employment and their academic status.

Mr. Speaker, this province can boast that we have over 2,800 reservists, the highest per capita rate of reservists of any province in Canada. That fact is something all Nova Scotians should take pride in, because we strongly support our Armed Forces and are recognized throughout Canada as leaders and innovators when it comes to military issues.

We are the first province to have a ministry devoted to the military and to have an interdepartmental defence forum that is recognized by the principles and the leaders of the defence department and the Armed Forces as a model of how they would like to see other provinces embrace their military communities.

Our province's defence forum has been in existence for almost two years and has already begun examining legislation or regulation that we as a government could enact to protect job security for our reservists living in Nova Scotia. Bill No. 80 is not the first time this issue has been discussed within the defence forum. In fact, the defence forum is already entered into discussions with 36 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters here in Halifax to determine the most realistic and the most efficient period of time which our Public Service can grant to reservists who are employed in government service.

Mr. Speaker, this government supports Bill No. 80; however, there are some issues that need to be examined, and hopefully my honourable colleagues of the Party opposite have given it some thought too. In the legislation that was presented to us, I read of enabling reservists to return to their jobs after their missions. Had they consulted with business groups, the province's chamber of commerce or trade associations which will be affected by this legislation? I suggest it's imperative that we consult with those groups to ensure we bring forward the best possible legislation.

[2:00 p.m.]

As all would know, in rural Nova Scotia, qualified and experienced workers are in high demand as tradespeople seek greater wealth in Western Canada, leaving Nova Scotia businesses which are endeavouring to retain their qualified workers and attract new employees to meet business expectations.

Mr. Speaker, every member in this House can put themselves in the position of these small-business operators and know the stress they are facing; what would happen when an important staff member leaves for a year or more for Reserve service, leaving without enough time to find a suitable qualified replacement? These folks will have to fill that void and will have to find new and trained members to take their place. That means advertising a position which is temporary, and investing in new staff members to bring the person to the level of knowledge of the reservist staff member who has vacated

[Page 1886]

that position. In seeking qualified and professional workers, many employers would tell you that no person would accept a position that would take them just from 12 to 18 months and then only end up without a job.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not saying we do not support the bill. As I said initially at the outset, we do support, and I support Bill No. 80. What I'm saying is that we need to consult with all those who will be affected by this legislation. We owe it to the business community of this province to exercise prudence, as well as patriotism, as we owe it to our deployed reservists to do what we can to ensure that his or her place of employment is still in business and ready to accept the returning employees back into the workplace.

Bill No. 80 can possibly be enacted within our Public Service, as we are big enough to support deployments. The government is seeking to include consultation with private- sector business in Nova Scotia under Bill No. 80, and is looking forward to bringing this issue to the Law Amendments Committee.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 80 addresses only the aspect regarding a reservist's job, but I think one area that has been overlooked is that many reservists are post-secondary students. As a government, we need to ensure our reservists who volunteer to serve our country's Armed Forces, we need to protect these students, financially and academically. When students deploy on overseas missions, many leave the university and college programs in which they were enrolled in. A student who withdraws from a course that is in progress may receive a failing mark or a withdrawal on his or her permanent academic record. This could easily hurt the future ambitions of the reservist beyond his or her present military mission.

The other element, Mr. Speaker, is the financial cost to the reservist who has chosen between withdrawing from the academic program or declining a military mission that so desperately needs that soldier, that sailor, or that airman, or airwoman. Most post-secondary institutions give a student two to three weeks to partially recover the cost of a course, but a student who seeks to serve his or her nation may not qualify for academic reimbursement. Our government does not feel that students should pay for their education that they do not receive because they enter into temporary service in the employment of Canada's Armed Forces.

While we believe that most, if not all, Nova Scotian academic institutions are forward looking and reasonable and understand the Reserve student situation, we should entrench this safeguard in legislation and we will be recommending that from the government. Post-secondary education institutions should not penalize reserve students who accept to serve abroad with the military, Mr. Speaker. The government is seeking to include protection for students under Bill No. 80 and is looking forward to bringing this issue to the Law Amendments Committee.

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The ways in which our military personnel protect our freedom and promote Canadian values abroad are not easy and they are certainly not safe. More than 100 Canadians have lost their lives while serving as peacekeepers in various missions such as Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Syria - just to name a few. In Afghanistan, Canada has lost 42 sons and daughters; 42 sisters and brothers; 42 neighbours, in an effort to bring peace and stability to a volatile region and a country steeped in the history of bloodshed and a lack of human rights, especially for Afghan women.

Mr. Speaker, our reservists are volunteers and can refuse any mission that is asked of them but quite clearly have shown their commitment by volunteering to represent our country. The risks and the hardships that our reservists undergo to support our country's military deserve the support of our provincial government to allow them to serve abroad with the knowledge that we in this Legislature have done as much as we possibly can to minimize, if not eliminate, the uncertainty and the stress about their jobs and schooling when they return back to the homeland.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the comments at the Law Amendments Committee and input from other Nova Scotians with regard to this very important bill, Bill No. 80.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill No. 80. I think it's important that we all recognize, and I believe all members of this House recognize, the work that the military does on behalf of Nova Scotians and Canadians. I'm very, very proud to be a military brat, I guess, where my father served the military for just shy of 35 years and actually was a member of one of the crews, the Athabaskan, that went over during the first Gulf conflict. So I have a very long history in my family of individuals and family members who have served and I feel it a privilege to stand and support pieces of legislation like this that will enhance the military, I believe, in our province and show the recognition that they deserve.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, a long family history, my grandmother actually was a war bride who came over many years ago with my mother, I believe on the Aquitania, through Pier 21, while my grandfather was serving overseas. As I said, it has been a long family history to support our troops, support the military, and I will continue to do that. I'm also standing in support of this because of the presence we have now in the community I represent. Sackville has a long history of being the home of many military personnel. I moved out there in the early 1970s, or my family moved me out there in the early 1970s, during kind of the huge boom out there of many military families who were building new homes and put roots down in Sackville.

Mr. Speaker, we also now currently over the last couple of years have a higher presence of military there. I'm speaking around the 30 Military Police Unit which is

[Page 1888]

stationed out of Sackville now. I had the privilege to attend the change of command just over a month ago, I believe it was on October 28th. The member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville was there with me on the change of command for that unit. It was an important change. We had a Major Moser, who was actually from Waverley, who commanded the Reserve unit out there for many years; well, for a couple of years in Sackville but prior to that, I believe, they were over in Shearwater.

What they've done now, Mr. Speaker, is they've created a new unit, a combination of the Reserve force and the regular force, and now it's under the command of Major Cullum, who is a proud member of the military, a proud member commanding this unit. This unit actually has many members who have served overseas, served in Afghanistan and in other areas of the world and currently, I believe, 15 to 17 members are training to go to Afghanistan in February.

I'm proud of the military presence in my community, not only the military personnel who make Sackville their home, but for this 30 Military Police Unit that has a presence and is continuing to grow as a unit. They have over 200 members in the unit presently, both regular and Reserve force. I think it's important that we recognize both those identities, especially our Reserve force, because these men and women take it upon themselves to be involved in the military while they continue to hold employment in many fashions. In this unit I know there are police officers - there are civil servants, I believe, who are amongst some of the reservists - they come from all walks of life. They feel compelled to serve their country and their province.

I think what we need to do as legislators is approve and support them to the fullest extent. I know that here in Nova Scotia, the member who was speaking previously mentioned, there are well over 2,500 reservists, maybe even over 2,800, here in this province. I know right now we have over 2,300 troops in Afghanistan, Canadian men and women who are serving there, and actually over 300 of those are reservists from all over this country. I think it just shows the importance of a piece of legislation like this, that they need some protection around their employment when they choose to make that decision to serve our country, serve our province and are stationed overseas.

The Minister of Justice mentioned a few concerns he has around consulting with companies here in Nova Scotia around this piece of legislation, which I agree with. I think it's important that we educate all employers here in the province as to what this piece of legislation will entail and what the implications are, Mr. Speaker, because there are implications. It's not something new to request an employer to give a leave of absence to an employee. We have the parental leave that goes on currently when women are going through the pregnancy process, and also around the adoption aspect of child care and child-rearing.

Currently we have in the province, and federally across this country, the ability for individuals to have time off, to have that parental leave, and that's well over a year

[Page 1889]

in time length. I think businesses already know that in the province they might have times in their calendar year that their employee might need to leave, might need to have a leave of absence granted. I think it's important that we recognize that. There are also many Nova Scotians who unfortunately have to take medical leave and are protected under legislation.

So the businesses in this province, I think, know, especially our strong history in the military and those who serve in this province and the possibility, now, of future shortages in employment. I know the Minister of Justice stated some concerns around the timeline and the ability for these employers to get a new person in that position, but many of our reservists, Mr. Speaker, they're not called upon to do a tour of duty or go overseas in a short period of time. As I mentioned, some of the members of the 30 Military Police Unit in Sackville, the military police unit, there are 15 to 17 of them training now for February, and they've known about that for pretty well near one year. They've had a lot of time to give notice to their employers that they're going to partake in this important aspect of being a Canadian, of being a Nova Scotian, to serve the military as reservists.

Personally, as an employee of Emergency Medical Care, and I know the member for Hants West would agree with me, that that company actually has a policy in place now that was able to give me a leave of absence to come here and represent my community. Also in that policy, Mr. Speaker, they actually have in there around any paramedics in the province who might leave for a tour of duty, as they state in the policy, that they will be able to do that. So businesses now are recognizing the important role that reservists play in the military here in Nova Scotia and in the country, and I think they'll definitely accept this piece of legislation going through and being approved and I think any employer would be very proud to have an employee represent their country and their province and their business in our Canadian military.

So with those few words, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this passing through the legislative process, and hopefully we can truly show our reservists the dedication and the support they have from all members of this Legislature. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am certainly very pleased today to stand for a few moments and speak in support of this bill. I think it is one that I know is welcomed in my community, Greenwood, having been established in the early 1940s and has, of course, impacted our area for 60-plus years so that very, very strong military presence and the role that reservists do play, as well a little further down the Valley, in the community of Aldershot.

[2:15 p.m.]

[Page 1890]

Having lived in Kentville for a period of time and being very familiar with Aldershot and the very extensive area that Aldershot actually covers geographically and the type and degree of training that goes on there for those who are in the Reserves. In fact, Aldershot does come under the Base Command at 14 Wing Greenwood. In fact, just last weekend at the Kingston Legion banquet for Remembrance Day, the base commander spoke very strongly of the work that is going on with the Reserves in Aldershot.

We also need to remember that they are made up of youth who have an interest, perhaps with a cadet background or just generally interested in the military who joined the Reserves. We also have a very strong number in our area who have finished their 20 years or 25-year contract in the military and the Reserves is an opportunity for them to continue along a career path that works very nicely for them and allows them to stay and eventually retire in the Valley.

One of the things that certainly I have seen over the years is that, especially with young people who joined the Reserves, it also becomes a stepping-stone to join the regular Forces. They like the experience and it becomes that opportunity for them to investigate joining.

One of the things, of course, that this bill is really focusing on is that ability to be able to hold on to the job, whether it be part-time or full-time, if as a reservist they have to make a larger commitment to be away. We have certainly had a number of reservists from the Greenwood and the Valley area who have now served in Afghanistan and I know that we will continue to see that certainly for some time to come.

In terms of being able to hold on to that job, there is no question that the Valley community, the business community there, is extremely supportive of military endeavours and military personnel and so I am sure that this bill will certainly kind of confirm for them what in fact they have been doing all along. That is, when the reservists need a week to go for training, they don't always have to take holidays to do this. There is support for this in our business community.

I think that this bill will help now make this a reality for the reservists who we know make a tremendous contribution, that they are professionals in what they do. In just a few weeks' time, in fact, we will have 85 military personnel from the Valley who will be going to Afghanistan. They'll be departing from 12-Wing Greenwood roughly around December 15th. This, as I said, is a piece of legislation that we support, and I think it's a strong piece in support of the role of the reservists, which at this time are getting close to about 2,500 in our province. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

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HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the government, as my colleague the Minister responsible for Military Relations referred to already, supports amendments that support our military. I am proud to stand here, in particular because the bill touches upon reservists, and as the honourable member for Kings West stated, Aldershot Base is the largest Reserve-training base in the Atlantic Provinces. It's an absolute gem in the Atlantic Provinces. The base has been very active in many different ways in training reservists across Nova Scotia, and, as I said, across the Maritimes it is the leading Reserve base.

Now changes such as these are usually made, Mr. Speaker, in the context of the federal government with the province implementing measures such as maternity leave and bereavement leave and Labour Standards Code after they've consulted with employers and employees. We haven't had that consultation, and we always like the consultation whenever we're able to have it.

What we'll be proposing at the Law Amendments Committee is that regulatory requirements be added to this bill so that the program could be aligned with federal measures, because I understand, Mr. Speaker, that the federal government has proposed legislation, that was proposed in 2004, and they've been looking at this issue. We will propose that there be some regulatory requirements that would harmonize this with federal legislation as the federal legislation comes through.

We will also be proposing that appropriate notice and time periods be given by the parties, so that both employers and employees have time to make decisions and organize their affairs, which is only fair to the businesses that employ the reservists. We will be suggesting one month's notice to employers, and at most, military furloughs would be in the 24-month time frame.

Having made these brief comments, I do want to commend the Opposition Leader on bringing forth this important bill that will benefit reservists across Nova Scotia. As I said, Mr. Speaker, I'm very proud to be the member in whose riding Aldershot Base is, the largest and one of the best training bases for reservists across Canada. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have a few minutes to speak on Bill No. 80. It's interesting, because I think many of us in this House have military bases in our ridings, the member for Halifax Needham, the member for Kings West, the member for Kings North, who was just talking about the reservist base in his area. Obviously there are some military stations in certain places, as well. I have CFB Shearwater, 12-Wing Shearwater in my area. It's not very often at a provincial Legislature we get a chance to speak on issues of the military.

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I commend the Leader of the Opposition for bringing this bill forward. It is a good idea, one that I think is necessary, particularly in this time in which the role of the reservists has changed historically. I think traditionally, at least between times of war, it has always been understood that the Reserves are that, a reserve. But what we're now finding, and I noticed this last year with the American military in some of my work overseas, is that it was amazing to see some of these military faces. Usually we think of people in the military as young, and it being a young person's activity. But I would see these men with grey hair, in their 40s, who were involved in military activity within the United States Army. It sort of surprised me because at first when you don't think about it, you're a bit surprised to see older faces, people who you would normally think are past their career, but these, of course, are reservists.

I think in the United States, in their war in Iraq, they have had - I think it was upwards of 30 per cent or 40 per cent of the troops on the ground are actually reservists, a good number of them. I think that's something that you're beginning to see as well in Canada - not to that extent, not to the extent of that percentage, but you heard the member for Sackville-Cobequid talk about a Reserve group of military police officers. I know people who are reservists who have certain skills - doctors, pharmacists, dentists - who are also being sent to Afghanistan because of the skills they have. They are desperate for people who, frankly, have training outside but who are willing to sign up as a reservist in order to be able to carry on certain work from time to time.

Mr. Speaker, this is all important and that's why, with the changing role of the Reserves within our military, the changing role of our military, it's important that we reflect that in ensuring - much like we do with women who are pregnant - that people who join the Reserves and are called upon to leave, that they have the protection of certain benefits and their employment and that they have a job when they return. That's all very important and that's why I'm so happy to see this bill coming forward today and, from what I'm hearing in this House, most likely passing second reading and hopefully, in this session today, we're hopeful that we will be able to ensure that this bill will pass in this session.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say that it's important to reflect, as I said, in my riding with 12 Wing Shearwater, I sometimes argue that I probably have the most militarized riding in Nova Scotia given the percentage of people who are either active force Reserves or are in some way employed either as civilians or who have family members or neighbours who are employed in the military. Having a base obviously in my riding, I'm very well aware also because having grown up in that community, my father having been in the military for 25 years or longer, maybe even 30.

It's clearly an issue that as we look at this as time goes on, as I said, the role of the Reserves is going to change, the role of our military has changed and we need to reflect that in legislation. Most of that will be federal because they have responsibility for the Department of National Defence but in those rare tangential moments in which

[Page 1893]

our province has authority over something that can make it easier for our men and women who serve us in the Navy, Army, Air Force, Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to see that this is something that we can do.

As the role of the military changes, I'm also glad to see that this will ensure, for example, I know that at Shearwater, in my riding, they are now in the process of tendering for a centre which will be the basis for the Rapid Deployment Force, which, as well, may involve many reservists, both at that actual base under certain conditions and in times of emergency but also, Mr. Speaker, in times in which they may be sent over. The role of the military in the history of this province is clear, we all know it, but it's ongoing. Maybe 10 years ago there was some discussion that maybe the role of the military in our province was going to be downsized - that has changed. I think all parties reflect that, both in the last election and currently, that our society has changed, the role of the military has changed.

If Canada is to be taken seriously on the world stage with regard to its push for human rights, with regard to its push for good governance and democracy, we also have to, as a country, be prepared to play a role in the peacemaking that's involved in ensuring that we can do that. Whether that was in the Balkans 10 years ago or whether that's in the stands now or whether that may be some other part of the world, five or 10 years from now the role of the military, the role of our Civil Service, the role of individuals in our society in ensuring and promoting democracy and good governance for all in the world is something that's going to carry on. The reservists have an important role in doing that, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to stand here and support them and ensure that this bill passes. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East on an introduction.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise to make an introduction. In the west gallery we have today Frank Fraser, a former Mayor of the Town of Canso, a long-time activist on numerous fronts, and the person who advanced democracy in this province by setting the stage for civil servants to run for public office. I'm very proud to stand and present to the House Frank Frasier, and ask that a warm round of applause be given to him. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: A warm welcome to all our visitors this afternoon.

If I recognize the member it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I rose just a short time ago to move second reading, and I'm now going to be wrapping up the speaking and closing debate on second reading. I wanted to just reflect for a second, I think I said this previously, that

[Page 1894]

this was an important piece of legislation to us. I think it recognizes for us the importance that we place on the support of the military, on the support of the men and women who volunteer to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces.

This has been a long history with the NDP, the support of military and military families. It predates, actually, the 1961 convention that founded the NDP. In fact, the involvement on military issues goes back to the end of the Second World War, when many of the returning soldiers, coming back to Canada, found that there were inadequate pensions, when those who had lost their lives overseas, the widows of those people realized that there were inadequate pensions for the widows of soldiers. It was the CCF in the House of Commons that argued and worked so hard to ensure that those people who offered to serve their country in the important theatres of war in Europe and in the Pacific had those sacrifices appropriately recognized by a grateful nation.

[2:30 p.m.]

This is a matter of a kind of long-standing commitment from this Party and from the predecessors in that political lineage, if I can use that appropriate expression, for the NDP. So we saw this opportunity with this bill to find a way to help protect and to help recognize the service of reservists by ensuring that their employment was going to be protected, that they were going to have the opportunity to come home from that service - and let's remember, it's not just the service in other theatres, in foreign countries, but also service in training aspects to bring up their skills so that they can be ready to serve in other capacities, to ensure that the benefits they would enjoy, if they had continuous service with their employers, would not be jeopardized as a result of their service.

All of this, I think, is an important way to recognize that commitment, but also to ensure that those people have the economic security they deserve when they come back to their families, when they come back to this province.

I believe that it's the case in this province, as it is in many states in the United States and indeed in the provinces of this country, that when employers are looking for dedicated employees for their companies, one of the things that they look for are the extra employment activities that people have. Do they participate in their communities; do they serve in service organizations; do they serve in the Reserves, because they see that commitment to these undertakings as an aspect of character development, as an aspect of commitment as a positive thing that an employer should consider when they are hiring their potential employees.

This just goes further to strengthen the support that we think is due to Reserve members of the Canadian Forces. I believe it certainly will be widely appreciated. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that since I introduced this bill a short time ago, I have received many e-mails from people in the Canadian Forces Reserves who have applauded the introduction of the bill, but also said, I can see how this is going to help me in my

[Page 1895]

workplace - I'm often left trying to negotiate with my employer for time off. If there were a piece of legislation, I would have a better ability to be able to arrange for this important aspect of my commitment to my country and to my province.

I'm pleased that, under these circumstances, in a minority government, the majority Party in the House would recognize a good idea when they see one and agreed to act on it.

I mentioned earlier that, in part, this bill comes out of my own personal experience with the Armed Forces. Of course, I served in the Navy and over that course of time I had the great privilege to work with many people who were in the Reserves. They served next to me on the bridge of the ships I was posted to. I recognized and appreciated the work they do. I think it's fortunate that years after that service has gone by, I'm now in a position to bring forward a piece of legislation that will have a positive effect on their service.

I would make this final point. It is a fact of life that as you go forward in your life, you take on new challenges, you do new things and the people around you who you have associated with throughout your lifetime are doing the same things. Many of the people I served with in the Armed Forces went through - it seems only yesterday, but it was back in 1981 when I went through basic training at CFB Chilliwack in Vedder Crossing in British Columbia. I had joined the Armed Forces at that time in the capacity of a program that was called Direct Entry Officer, DEO, which recognized my university training as an important aspect of officer qualifications. The result of that was that I went through with many, many individuals who are now in senior positions in the Armed Forces and who are serving in senior capacities around the country and around the world.

I continue to hear from those people, I continue to have contact with them and their families. I can tell you, when I talk to them about legislation like this, they were very pleased to know that it was coming forward. I think they will be even more pleased to know that the government is recognizing the value of the bill. With that I would close debate on Bill No. 80. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading on Bill No. 80. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we have with us today some representatives from ANSSA who are here in the gallery. I'd like to take the opportunity

[Page 1896]

to introduce Zack Churchill representing Saint Mary's University; Spencer Keys, the Executive Director of ANSSA; Mike Tipping of Dalhousie University; Graham Carter of St. F.X.; and Peter Eirikson from Acadia. We'll be meeting with these representatives later this afternoon to discuss various issues facing university students here in our province and I would ask our guests to arise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 78.

Bill No. 78 - Order of Nova Scotia Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on this bill for a few minutes. I want to commend the member for Clare for bringing this bill forward - it's long overdue. I also want to recognize the foresight of the then Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, and now the Premier of the day, for bringing the Order of Nova Scotia forward in 2001. I happen to be a fortunate Nova Scotian, one who is the child of a recipient of the 2005 Order of Nova Scotia. I want to say to the House, and I think I can speak for her and, I think, on behalf of all recipients, it's not what their life was about, but it is a wonderful crowning to what they consider to be their work, throughout trying to live life as they see fit and to make accomplishments and make a difference for the people they come in contact with on a regular basis.

So I want to say to the Premier today, well done in 2001 - and I want to say to the member for Clare, this is a step in the right direction. We now are beginning to acknowledge young men and women, from the age group of 16 to 26, on the accomplishments they have made to Nova Scotia. Under the present Order of Nova Scotia, even though it doesn't stipulate it in the Act, it really has been recognizing a lifetime of accomplishments - even though the Act doesn't stipulate that, that's really what we've been doing with the present Order of Nova Scotia. This amendment will recognize young Nova Scotians between the ages of 16 and 26 who are making a tremendous contribution and making a difference in the lives of all Nova Scotians.

I want say that what this will do - this piece of legislation will change from the committee recognizing five Nova Scotians in a year, to where they will recognize six, and one of those recipients will have to be between the ages of 16 and 26.

I want to read what the objective of the Order of Nova Scotia is, Mr. Speaker. It's in line item No. 5, in the Order of Nova Scotia, it says: "The object of the Order is to honour individual Nova Scotians who have distinguished themselves by an outstanding contribution to the cultural life or to the social or economic well-being of the Province,

[Page 1897]

by an outstanding achievement or by excelling in any field of endeavour to the benefit of the people of the Province or elsewhere."

Mr. Speaker, I think this is just the proper evolution of this bill. As we go forward now, to begin to move it and recognize the young Nova Scotians who are doing that on a day-to-day basis, I think all of us can go through our ridings and are amazed by the tremendous things that young people are doing - how they are leading the way. I'm sure we could all pull out the names of constituents of ours who are doing tremendous things - tremendous things that not only are impacting on the local community that they live in, but the greater community, and indeed the entire province. This is one way for us to reach out and recognize one of them a year, for the tremendous work that they had done.

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Clare for bringing this forward and I will sit and listen as other members have a chance to speak on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to speak just for a moment. I want to echo some of the comments made by the former speaker who, indeed, is the son of a very distinguished Nova Scotian who received the Order of Nova Scotia, and certainly she's a great example of the type of individual in our province who should be recognized - and that's really what the Order of Nova Scotia has been all about. It's recognizing those distinguished individuals who have really set themselves apart by doing things which have positively impacted our province. All of the individuals who have received the Order of Nova Scotia indeed deserve to have achieved an Order of Nova Scotia, and I was very pleased and proud to introduce the bill - although I want to be very clear that it was my predecessor, John Hamm - Premier Hamm - who put forward that idea and we move forward on it. But I did have the pleasure of putting forward the bill.

I do think recognizing a young person between the ages of 16 and 25 is very important, in addition to what we already do. Of course, I know you have an interest in that, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, having put forward this bill, and I think perhaps you have seen fit to do this because perhaps with your education background and perhaps seeing the young people in your community, the impact that they have made. I've seen the same thing both in my classroom and my community.

So I am certainly a supporter of what's being put forward, Mr. Speaker. I believe that we need to do more to promote what our young people are doing in our province and do more to recognize Nova Scotians in a valuable manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[Page 1898]

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, I have to commend the member for Clare for bringing this bill forward. We support it without any reservations. We think it is high time we started to pay more attention to recognizing the good things the youth do in our community and spend less time complaining about some of their youthful failings. This bill intends to potentially increase the number of recipients from five to six and in that case where it is raised to six, the bill proposes that one of the candidates, or at least one of the candidates I should say, must be a person under the age of 26. The bill also says 25 at one point, but I think the intent is to be under 26.

I'm quite happy to support this, Mr. Speaker, because I think it's high time we spent more time focusing on the good things that our youth do. The object of the order is to honour individual Nova Scotians who have distinguished themselves by an outstanding contribution to the cultural life, or the social or economic well-being of the province by an outstanding achievement, or by excelling in any field of endeavour to the benefit of the people of the province, or elsewhere.

[2:45 p.m.]

I went through the list of just the most recent recipients of the Order of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to put that on the record: Dr. Ron Stewart, as a Health Minister, organized the ambulance service which has become one of the most highly regarded and respected ambulance services and paramedic training programs in the world; George Elliott Clarke, a prominent African-Canadian from Hants County, a professor at the University of Toronto, a recognized playwright, poet, novelist, activist, a winner of the Governor General's Award; Joan Dillon from St. F.X., who has tutored young people on Mi'kmaq and African heritage issues; Cora deYoung, in saving some of our folk art; and Colonel Ian Fraser who brought us our Nova Scotia Tattoo.

I would be delighted to see someone under the age of 26 included in this category, Mr. Speaker, because I believe there are many Nova Scotian students who would be eligible, at least worthy of consideration. In fact, I see some of them in the gallery today. I see Zach Churchill, Mike Tipping, Spencer Keys, and others - my eyesight fails me. Earlier today we had Danielle Sampson and Chris Parsons here. You know these student activists have been busy in the trenches and have been fighting hard for post-secondary education. I'm sure at some point they should be considered, if they don't wish to stand now, and at one point I thought the member for Clare's son was a young activist at the Saint Mary's campus and he was one of the busiest young students around and an inspiration to all of us.

So my point is that there are a great number of young Nova Scotians under the age of 26 who would be eligible and who do make an outstanding contribution to the well-being of our province. As someone who has coached soccer for a number of years for under 18 girls, as someone who has taught at university for over 15 years, and as someone who's very involved in the activist community, I can say that we have seen

[Page 1899]

great numbers of young activists, students and scholars generally, who spend an awful lot of time trying to make their communities, their homes and their schools a better place.

It is time that we recognize them and, in particular, not to draw attention to any particular fields but certainly at the Ecology Action Centre, for example, Mr. Speaker, I'm amazed by the energy that those young activists bring to their cause with very little reward and often they work under very difficult conditions. The bill doesn't refer to organizations but I think the Order of Nova Scotia itself recognizes young organizations and I think it should include reference to groups and associations like the Ecology Action Centre which is primarily, although not exclusively, youth driven.

Similarly, in arts and culture, we see young artists and musicians struggling under difficult conditions, inventing new forms, and we should recognize them as well in the social justice field. So my point, Mr. Speaker, is that yes, it wouldn't be very hard to find distinguished Nova Scotians under 26 who would be eligible for investiture in the Order of Nova Scotia. We commend the member for Clare for bringing this forward and we are delighted to support it. It is high time that we paid more attention to this issue. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre on an introduction.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, a few moments for an introduction. I bring your attention to the east gallery for a brief introduction, a couple of fine ladies from Pictou County, two sisters of mine visiting the House of Assembly for the first time, Thelma and Joan Dunn. I would ask you to stand for a round of applause.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I simply want to rise and say a few words on Bill No. 78. I, as well, certainly want to commend my colleague, the member for Clare, for having brought forward this important change. I think all of us, especially during Volunteer Week, have the occasion to attend volunteer banquets in our own ridings and I think it is safe to say that for all of us, when you look around the room, unfortunately there aren't very many young people at these volunteer banquets. We realize in all of our communities that many of our volunteers are getting up in age, many are starting to get burned out and we certainly have to work together to try to attract more and more young people to get involved in volunteer activities in their schools and in their communities, cultural activities, whatever it might be. So I believe that any efforts we can undertake in that regard are to be commended.

So, Mr. Speaker, by adding one more position to the Order of Nova Scotia I believe is a very prudent way to do so because with this suggestion we are actually keeping the existing infrastructure in place that is there for the Order of Nova Scotia. So

[Page 1900]

I believe it is going to make it much easier for the government to be able to put this system in place and I believe the comments we have heard from throughout the Assembly clearly reflect support from all Parties for this initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague, the member for Annapolis has mentioned his connection to one of the recipients a couple of years ago, that being his mother Theresa McNeil. I also want to take this opportunity to recognize one of the first recipients of the Order of Nova Scotia, Mr. John Boudreau. John was recognized for his many years of hard work in community economic development, especially during the crisis when the collapse of the groundfish fishery took place. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, I think he is a good example because John was not only recognized for his past accomplishments, I think by giving him the Order of Nova Scotia it is very fitting because it certainly sends the message that those being recognized haven't ended their work on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia. In many ways they continue to do so. In John's case, after receiving the Order of Nova Scotia he ran for elected office in the municipal election and was successful.

I am pleased to say that a couple of weeks ago he was also successful in another election, that being the election for Warden of Richmond County and he is now the new Warden of Richmond, so I think it is a sign that the Order of Nova Scotia Committee has been very prudent in who they have selected and I believe he is a shining example of not just recognizing a Nova Scotian for their past efforts but certainly also recognizing that some of those recognized through the Order of Nova Scotia continue to give in many ways to our province and to their home community.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that this bill is getting the full support of the House and I look forward to it moving on to second reading and speedy passage in this House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member for Annapolis it will be to close the debate.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: I want to thank the members of the House for their comments. I also want to say to the Premier that I neglected to recognize the former Premier, Dr. Hamm, who I know was instrumental in bringing this forward to Nova Scotia. So once again, Mr. Speaker, I just want to close debate on Bill No. 78 and I look forward to it moving to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 78. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 1901]

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 83.

Bill No. 83 - Labour Standards Code.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's with great pleasure that I stand to say a few words on this bill. This bill is reasonably straightforward. It ensures or entitles employees to at least a 30-minute break after five hours of consecutive work. Basically, today, with the demands on employees to produce more and more, I think this is very positive and will help improve productivity and, at the same time, give people the time to have their meal or to have a period of rest. It's a bill that our caucus has been quite interested in for some time. It's something that really had to be done to protect Nova Scotians. With that, I will be interested in hearing the comments from the other Parties.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite, the honourable member for Preston, for introducing Bill No. 83, a revision to the Labour Standards Code that will provide employees with a guaranteed rest, eating break. This bill, as you know, Mr. Speaker, will formally match the rights and protections afforded to other Nova Scotians who work in other provinces across Canada. So it was good that the honourable member brought in this bill.

We did have a very short stakeholder consultation. We received 35 responses to our request for public and stakeholder opinion from employers, employee unions and others. All responded in support of the general idea of meal breaks. They made suggestions, Mr. Speaker, regarding options for flexibility, and highlighted situations that might require exceptions by employers or employees. All of these comments are valuable and are useful input as we move to the next stage in the Law Amendments Committee.

Mr. Speaker, we will be proposing some amendments to the bill that would exempt urgent situations from the application of this bill, including, at times, workers who may be working by themselves and are extremely busy and are unable to take advantage of this proposal. With that small sort of proviso, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing this forward and for aligning Nova Scotia with the other provinces across Canada on rest breaks after five hours of work.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 1902]

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for Preston for introducing a bill that brings this province kicking and screaming into the 1970s. The Labour Standards Code of this province was last fundamentally overhauled over 30 years ago. For the last seven years, this government, in this House, has sat or stood in this House and has refused to even consider significant changes. Any significant change that has been made to basic standards of work in this province have come from the Opposition benches, either the Liberal Party or our Party. I find that appalling.

This is about a government that ignores minimum standards for the people of this province. Why, until today, do we have to talk about a province where it was illegal - let me back up, you would fire a worker who decided to take a half-hour lunch break after five hours work? That is a shame. Let's face it, for the last 30 years, the Tories have been in power all but, I think, maybe eight of those years, and they have refused to make any changes to this legislation. We all know why. Their buddies who are employers, their buddies in business didn't want to see minimum standards increased in this province.

It's only through minority government that we've actually been able to get some changes, piecemeal changes to a bill that, frankly, if in 1999 they announced there was going to be a fundamental review of the Act, today we'd be standing here talking about and debating a bill that would actually fundamentally overhaul labour standards in this province.

Mr. Speaker, this is about standards that are reflected statutorily in every contract of employment in the Province of Nova Scotia, with certain exceptions. Yet, this province has an abominable record of not only having poor standards, minimum standards but not also not enforcing those standards that they should be enforcing.

Mr. Speaker, that's a sin, because, frankly, in this day and age, we are in a position in this province that we should be reflecting the fact that we're going to be coming up on a labour shortage. Whether we like it or not, whether the employers in this province like it or not, and whether this government in its dying days likes it or not, we're in a situation that between now and the next couple of years as more and more workers leave this province to make $50 an hour in Fort McMurray or Calgary or Red Deer or Edmonton, you're going to begin to see, much like Adam Smith predicted 250 years ago, we're going to begin to see the invisible hand of the market force more, higher standards, better pay for workers in this province because of a shortage of labour.

This government has their eyes and ears closed to this actually happening. If we actually created in this province minimum standards with regard to employment contracts, a Labour Standards Code that reflected the fact that things have changed since 1972 or 1973, whenever we passed this Act, maybe we'd be in a position where employers and workers could begin to talk about the conditions of employment that would ensure that we'd have minimum standards. We'd ensure that the workers would be able to have a workplace that they could come to and work and ensure that they

[Page 1903]

would have minimum pay, that they would have a lunch break, God forbid in this province that our people can't have a lunch break until the member for Preston introduces this bill.

[3:00 p.m.]

We talked in the past about actually having a couple of days off if your child was sick, something our Party had to force this government to do. We've talked in the past about vacation time in this province. Things that are fundamental rights for most workers who have a collective agreement are things that in this province this government has ignored time and time again.

Mr. Speaker, what's going to happen, whether they like it or not, is in the next couple of years, as more and more workers go out West, and, frankly, we can talk about them going out West because of higher pay, but the fact is one of the reasons they're going out West, as well, I think, intrinsically, is because there's a labour shortage With a labour shortage that means workers have the ability to define their standards and get better conditions, whether that's safety conditions, whether that's working conditions, whether that is better pay, whether that is, for example, per diems, depending on the type of work they're doing. These are the things they're able to get because there's a labour shortage out there.

There's going to be a labour shortage here. Arguably there's one now in Halifax. There's going to be a labour shortage in this province because so many people are going out West, Mr. Speaker, and this province isn't even ready, and this government is blind to the fact that this is what is going to happen. One of the things we could do to keep workers here is enhance the minimum standards so whether they're in a union or whether they're not, there will be minimum standards of an employment contract that will ensure that the workers of this province have the ability to get, as part of an employment contract, basic conditions. I'm not saying people are moving to Fort McMurray because they can't get a lunch break here, but that is one of the straws on the back of the camel, whether it's a lunch break, whether it is a minimum wage - up until we got the government, forced the government to change it, they couldn't even get decent overtime in this province.

Slowly and surely, through piecemeal amendments, which I would argue, like in so many Acts, that's not the appropriate way to do it, we're getting changes to the Labour Standards Code in this province because this government turns a blind eye to actually ensuring minimum standards for workers in this province, Mr. Speaker. That's the problem. That's what they've ignored for seven long years. I want to thank the member for Preston for introducing this. I'm glad to see the people of this province will be guaranteed a lunch break, what a great provision we have in this province now, once this bill is passed, and in the dying days of this government, maybe we'll begin to get more changes that will result in a better Labour Standards Code, so that the people of

[Page 1904]

Nova Scotia can have basic, decent standards at their workplace. Maybe a few of them will decide not to go out West because they can be here and they can get the minimum standards they need to continue to work here and enjoy the lifestyle. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the member it will be to close the debate.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to hear the support from both Parties on this important bill. As has been stated, it will give employees an opportunity to have a break and a rest period and possibly a lunch period, if that's appropriate at the time. I think it's a move forward in Nova Scotia, to help Nova Scotians have a better workplace and to ensure that they have periods of rest, and for the employers, too, because it will make the employees more productive. Everybody wins. This is a no-lose bill. With that, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 83.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 83.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 86.

Bill No. 86 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This revision to the Motor Vehicle Act is long overdue. It will demand that people wear helmets when they are on basically any wheeled device, such as bikes or skateboards, anything that is wheeled and non-motorized.

It has been proven that helmets have prevented 85 per cent of head injuries and 88 per cent of deaths due to head injury. So that's important. The problem with a bill like this is - and hopefully it will be supported and passed by the Legislature and be supported by the other Parties - you put a bill like this in place and over time, as the acceptance of the bill goes more and more, and more people wear helmets, we will never know how many people are saved, either their lives or from serious injury, because they had a helmet on. I think that's good news.

[Page 1905]

This will help prevent a lot of pain and suffering for families, and young people, particularly young people, who have been injured with head injuries, needlessly. Just to give you an example, there were over 500 Canadians hospitalized with head injuries from bike use each year, that's just bike use. As skateboards and other things become more and more popular with our young people and with our adults in the area, it's important, I feel, that they are protected, and they are protected.

Also, each year, 450 people, or Nova Scotians, die from preventable injuries each year. That's a staggering number. So anything we can do to prevent that or reduce that number is a bonus as far as I'm concerned. It makes it easier, too. Before, with the law that was in place, it was sort of very ambiguous when the police officer was trying to protect somebody and ensure they are wearing a helmet, whether they could enforce it in this location or that location. This bill will eliminate that problem, as well. In short, it's really supported by a lot of people in the community and it will help save lives and save injuries from people in the area. With that, I would be very interested in hearing the comments from the other Parties, and hopefully they will be able to support this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is my pleasure to rise in the House today in support of Bill No. 86. I look at this as a bill to help make Nova Scotia a safer place. I know the member opposite has introduced similar legislation in the past. I believe it's never the wrong time to do the right thing, and that's why we need to move forward with this piece of legislation.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that my staff have assisted with the development of this bill, and it's the kind of legislation that will help ensure that Nova Scotia becomes one of the healthiest and safest provinces in this country.

As many members of this House are aware, injury is the leading cause of death and disability during the first 45 years of our life. It kills more Nova Scotians between the age of 1 and 20 than all other causes combined. I want to read that again, Mr. Speaker. It kills more Nova Scotians between the age of 1 and 20 than all other causes combined.

Mr. Speaker, given that injury takes its greatest toll on youth, it is a leading cause of potential years of lost life. The cost of injury in Nova Scotia is said to be $570 million per year, greater than the use of tobacco, obesity, or physical inactivity. These costs are all avoidable. It has been proven that brain injuries can be reduced through the development of comprehensive policies and programs to encourage the use of helmets for certain recreational activities by up to 65 per cent. That's a powerful number, and if we think of that number as the number of our families and friends and loved ones who are affected when someone they know is injured in such a life-altering way, it creates yet another dimension to the cost and pain.

[Page 1906]

Mr. Speaker, I believe this bill provides an ideal opportunity to revisit some of the positive steps and strides that we have made in injury prevention over the past few years. Of particular note, in 2003 our government committed to develop a comprehensive Injury Prevention Strategy. In 2004 we introduced that strategy and we became the first province in the country to fund and lead such a strategy. In addition, I must also reference the recent work on enhanced child safety through the use of booster seats. Positive steps such as these will translate directly into safer and healthier Nova Scotians. I believe that this is what we all want.

Mr. Speaker, I must also applaud the work of our key stakeholders in the area of injury prevention such as the Helmet Safety Awareness Coalition and Injury Free Nova Scotia. Groups such as these have ensured that the issue of injury prevention and its associated costs have stayed on the front burner of all Parties in this House. Let me reiterate that I personally remain committed to the health and safety of all Nova Scotians. With my officials, we are acting on a daily basis to make this province the healthiest place to live, work and play in Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in support of Bill No. 86 and have a few minutes to speak on this important topic. I certainly thank my colleague, the member for Preston, for bringing this forward. I guess the bill is officially called an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act. It's really all about common sense. It's about helmets and the use of them in this province. As we know, it is legislated that they're mandatory on four-wheelers, on motorcycles, and certainly on bicycles and other recreational equipment but, as pointed out in this bill, it is not province-wide, it's only at the present time on roads, highways, bicycle paths, and on public streets or sidewalks. Of course, there are lots of places in this province that people travel on a bicycle, or use a skateboard, or inline skates, or whatever, that are not on these public roads, or sidewalks, or highways, and that's what this bill is designed to do.

Why it wasn't originally put in the bill, I'm not sure. It certainly makes sense that anywhere a person is operating a non-motorized vehicle such as a bicycle or a scooter, skateboard, et cetera, then certainly there should be protection for the individuals who are using this equipment. We certainly do want to prevent accidents; it's a tragedy any time somebody's injured or an accident occurs, even worse death, you know, the loss of a loved one on a bicycle, or inline skate or skateboard, it doesn't happen too often, but if it happens once, it's too often if anybody's injured or killed on any of this recreational equipment.

I think we've all heard of accidents in Nova Scotia and certainly in other jurisdictions where people have been injured, people have been even killed on a bicycle or other piece of recreational equipment and so it makes sense, whether it's on a private

[Page 1907]

lane or private driveway, perhaps at a playground, anywhere that people are operating this equipment. A lot of people mountain bike these days over hill and dale and there's some pretty rough terrain, again that's outside the present law and, to me, it makes sense that they should be wearing a helmet on these trails. There's a lot of organized mountain biking going on in Nova Scotia now and, absolutely, I think they should be protected for their own protection and for their loved ones who want to see them come back safely home before the day is out.

I know of one trail in my county, Mr. Speaker, that's well used for mountain bikes is the Fitzpatrick Mountain Trail. It's near Scotsburn, Millsville, and it's about eight kilometres long. It's used quite extensively by bikers and for recreational opportunities. Again, this bill would allow protection for people using trails such as that.

I guess the only concern I might have about the bill is how it's going to be enforced. It is a common-sense thing to protect yourself and to see other people use it off-highway or off the areas that are presently covered. I suppose it will probably come down to education, to let people know this is the right thing, it's for your own protection, it's for the protection of others. So I don't know if it is enforceable on the back 40 or out on a remote mountain trail, but it's perhaps with education, in time it will become a standard thing, just like wearing a seatbelt in your car or putting a helmet on if you're riding a four-wheeler, then it will fall into place on it's own.

Overall, I certainly support this particular bill. I thank my colleague for bringing it forward and I look forward to hearing what other colleagues may have to say on it and see how it proceeds through the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill this afternoon which updates and amends what the government has already been doing to improve safety across this province for the people who use active modes of transportation - roller skates, inline skates, bicycles and skateboards.

[3:15 p.m.]

We all know, or at least I hope we know by now, the safety that helmets provide, not only to adults but to our youth. With adults wearing these helmets, the impact they can have on our youth and hopefully keep them wearing them. It's important for our government to update these helmet regulations, as the standards have changed over the years and with the growing popularity of these devices.

I mentioned a moment ago, particularly among the youth, the skateboarding seems to be, at least the biggest in my area. By qualifying these existing safety regulations, this amendment will make it easier for everyone to understand the law and

[Page 1908]

minimize the grey areas. It's common sense to recognize that it's not on sidewalks alone where these devices are used, especially as we create more recreational spaces for these devices to be used.

I think the original intent of this legislation was not intended for them to protect people involved in stunts and competitions. This amendment is no different. The amendment adds to the existing regulations for on any property where such riding or operation is permitted.

While head traumas are relatively low in this province, they have happened and unfortunately continue to happen. The long-term effects can be devastating. Anyone who has seen the effects of a head or a brain injury knows full well the importance of ensuring our children and our adults are well protected when engaged in recreational activities.

Brain injuries are, of course, the leading type of fatal and disabling injury to bicyclists and others who use devices such as skateboards, scooters and inline skates. In 2001, Julian Young, coordinator of Injury Prevention for Nova Scotia Health Promotion was involved in a relatively minor bike crash. During this incident, he struck his helmeted head on an asphalt road while traveling approximately 25 kilometres an hour. Following that crash, Mr. Young was taken by ambulance to Colchester Regional Hospital where he spent about eight hours receiving treatment in the emergency department, including a CT scan of his head.

As a result of this minor crash, in which case his head was protected by a helmet, Young still suffered a concussion which lasted five days, causing him to miss work for a week. Had Young not been wearing the proper helmet, he likely would have been killed or suffered a severe brain injury.

This is only one example of many where lives have been saved by a bike helmet. Anyone who still does not adhere to the law are putting their own lives at risk, perhaps even the lives of others. We hope our adults continue to set a good example for the younger members of our society. If our children and youth see their parents, neighbours and relatives observing the law, the greater the chances their children will adopt these safety measures.

It's an ongoing education issue as well as one of enforcement, which our government has a proven track record to raise awareness on this issue because it needs a heightened public awareness on this on a regular basis. Our government has traditionally partnered up with enforcement agencies and groups, such as Nova Scotia Safety Council, to get those messages across, as well as our own Department of Health Promotion and Protection.

[Page 1909]

All of my daughters have bicycles, Mr. Speaker, and they have read the bicycle booklet which is available on the government Web site, which I also believe was presented to them in their schools. It bears reminding to read the manufacturer's instructions and consult with sales staff when you buy a helmet. Staff will make sure that you get a helmet and one that fits correctly, most importantly.

We have issued and continue to issue public safety campaigns and publications which outline helpful instructions and details about, for example, how to properly wear a helmet and how to properly fit it. Helmets greatly reduce the risk of brain injuries by as much as 88 per cent.

This time last year the Department of Health Promotion and Protection got the media involved in another way by getting the Halifax ChronicleHerald on board to not publish photos of people using these devices unless they were wearing the proper helmet. I will certainly encourage our local media in Hants County, the Hants Journal and the Valley Today, to adopt a similar rule. It's a great way for the media to step up and set a good example.

Preventable injuries, we talked about those. Approximately 450 lives each year and the cost to the province is almost $6 million annually, as we have heard, in direct and indirect costs. It is the leading cause of preventable death from people aged 1 year to 45 years which, the last time I checked, was still middle-age.

This amendment helps to better clarify the law that currently exists, especially as our government has been actively encouraging increased use of active modes of transportation by people of all ages. Encouraging our kids to build physical activities into their lives enhances healthy growth and can help them achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight. There are many other benefits to encouraging our children to pursue the recreation activity that they enjoy. There are also social and personal benefits, such as helping to make friends, improving physical self-esteem and increasing relaxation.

These are habits that can have a positive effect over a lifetime, that will help keep them in good health. Provided they pursue recreational activities safely and in areas they are permitted to operate active modes of transportation they use to do so in safe and accessible physical environments, this is one more step that our government is taking to make sure the roads in these areas where these devices are permitted and the people who use them are safer. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to stand here this afternoon and talk about Bill No. 86. I won't be speaking for a great length of time on this, but I did want to stand up and speak to Bill No. 86.

[Page 1910]

This is actually a bill that's just catching up on something that should have been in the first piece of legislation. The use of helmets for activities such as biking, skateboarding, inline skates, roller skates, all of these things should have been mandatory from the get-go. What has happened now, Mr. Speaker, is that we have a whole group of youth right now in a certain age group who have grown up not having to use those helmets in certain parts of their daily activities. So I do believe that we're moving in the right direction. As younger children use these pieces of equipment that indeed, they will be used to using a helmet no matter where they are when they are using these.

I do have a concern as to how this bill will actually be enforced. We know right now that our police departments are over-burdened, we don't have enough police officers in the province to deal with the high amount of crime we have. We have some of the highest crime rates here in HRM. We have things happening all over the province and if we don't have the police force right now to police criminal activity, then I'm just wondering how we're going to enforce children, making sure they are wearing these helmets, because number one, you have to catch these teenagers without the helmets on. So it's similar to the youth shouldn't smoke, you can't sell them cigarettes, but how do you enforce it when you do see them smoking them. It's kind of a hard thing to enforce.

So indeed, there's a certain group of us and our children who have grown up having used seat belts and when you just fall in line with that, sure, it's an easy thing. The same with car seats, and we're seeing the use of car seats for another group of children who didn't have to use them before. I think I just heard yesterday in here that the government is hiring on another 100-something police officers. I think it's one for every police force in the province, some such number.

I believe there was a promise during the election campaign to bring on 200 more police officers so, again, the enforcement thing. We all know that teenagers are obstinate. They have an indestructible attitude. They don't believe they can come to any harm. They're going to be hard to buckle down and put on these helmets, I can guarantee you. I have three sons, and they've done all of these things, biking, skateboarding, roller-blading, you name it, they've done it. I can tell you there are lots of times they haven't worn their helmets. So we'll see if this is going to work or not. Hopefully they'll put their helmets on.

Certainly, we heard the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection stand up and talk about - I think he was talking about brain injuries, and I'm not sure if I heard him correctly, but I think he said there was $570 million worth of hospitalization costs - maybe that's what he was saying - this year or last year. But I'm not sure if he was saying those were all caused by skateboarding, inline skating, he didn't actually mention how those injuries had happened, but I'm not sure on those numbers.

The Office of Health Promotion and Protection has a piece to play in this, and the piece they can play is in educating our young children, in Primary, when they start to use

[Page 1911]

these pieces of equipment for physical activity. We all know we have children now who are becoming diabetic, we have childhood obesity, we have kids who are getting into trouble because they simply do not have anything to do after school .Not all parents can afford to put their children in after-school programs. Thank goodness we have the Boys and Girls Clubs across the province that help us deal with those issues.

The Office of Health Promotion and Protection, and that's a fairly new department, should take this as an opportunity to educate our children on the proper use of helmet wear, that helmets have to fit you in a certain way or they're totally useless, Mr. Speaker. If you don't have the proper fitting on your helmet, the right size for you, then you might as well not be wearing a helmet. The Office of Health Promotion and Protection can be doing something else, too, they can be helping us in providing some kind of funding or maybe interest-free loans to communities that may want to build skate parks.

I had parents ask me a couple of weeks ago when I was just at a social function, what can we do to get a skateboarding facility, outdoor, in Dartmouth East? I said, well, the same way that most communities have gotten them, through getting a group together, a group of parents, and really going out and maybe doing some fundraising first. You have to get in touch with HRM. I said, phone the Office of Health Promotion and Protection. You have to get a group of parents together and then you have to find where you're going to get the pots of money to make this happen, even if you form a committee and do that.

It seems to me that what it has come down to in this province that a lot of things - if you don't have a group of parents who have the time on their hands to really be able to put time and effort into community organization and trying to get things done in their community, then it just simply doesn't happen. We've seen in Dartmouth East, we're talking about Bill No. 86, and we're talking about keeping children safe, and we're talking about health promotion and using these pieces of equipment to keep our youth and our children healthy. We've just seen in my neighbourhood a rink being closed, well, where are those people going to go now to do their skating and what have you?

We're closing things down, we should be opening things up. We should be opening up more skate parks. This is something that's a very popular outdoor activity for children. It has them outdoors, it has them being active. You can spend any amount of money on a skateboard, Mr. Speaker. I don't know if you've ever purchased one, but you can go to Pro Skates in Halifax and you can spend literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a skateboard. You get the wheels, you get the trucks - those are the things that you attach the wheels to - and there's this whole sort of group that's built around skateboarding. Really, in HRM, it's quite a phenomenon. I know Pro Skates has worked hard to get the skateboarding rink, the outdoor skate park on the Commons. I would guess that if Pro Skates hadn't been there, that may never have happened, because they really went after that.

[Page 1912]

So I think it's a good thing, it's activity for our youth and our children. I would like to see some skate parks being built around the province, specifically in Dartmouth East. Maybe in the future I might be contacting the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection looking for his help on trying to get a skate park in Dartmouth East.

Mr. Speaker, it's not a bad bill, it's just something that should have been done awhile ago. I don't know why it wasn't. I do have some concerns on how we're going to enforce it, if we don't have the police now to enforce the crimes that are going on, I don't know how we're really going to enforce it. With that, I will take my seat. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I rise here in support of this bill that amends the Motor Vehicle Act requiring the wearing of helmets. This is very important. We so much support safety of our young people and our adults, while at the same time we support and encourage good physical recreational activities, and safety is the utmost important factor when one is engaging in sports, especially sports that have more of a rigorous aspect to that particular activity.

[3:30 p.m.]

I think as adults, and government, we have a clear role to play, and that's one in which we need to set examples. We need to be educating ourselves, we need to be demonstrating that we also practise safety measures when we are out engaging in sports. We need to promote the wearing of helmets for our youth as something that's cool, as being the "in" thing to do, we need to be promoting helmets as the latest fashion statement to really make it (Interruption) Well, maybe I'm pushing it, but I'm a firm believer in reverse psychology.

With our young people, I mean, I've know I have heard kids say what a sucky thing to do, I have to wear a helmet, and it's not cool. Helmets, we all can agree they're not the greatest looking hat a person can wear. I really do think we have a responsibility to kind of put that message out there that this is a good thing. Not only is it safe, not only is it the right thing to do to ensure the safety of our young people, but also it's a very cool and in thing to do.

So I'm hoping, as we move forward with this, and with the assistance of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, we can move forward some really good, strong, clear, educational messages that we can ensure young people actually pick up wearing a helmet with little or no problem.

I do think that enforcement is going to be a concern. How is that going to roll out? Who is going to be responsible? Is it going to be solely the responsibility of the

[Page 1913]

local police forces or local RCMP agencies? Are we going to be having kind of watchdogs on the school grounds or watchdogs on the playgrounds? I'm not sure what that enforcement looks like but, again, if we're delivering the right message out there, if we start promoting this in a big way then, perhaps, enforcement won't be as big an issue in the long run.

While I fully support this, this is the right thing to do - years ago, I remember riding my bike, it was a banana bike at the time and it had the big handlebars, and sometimes we would double-ride them, we'd go for miles and we'd have no helmets on. (Interruptions) No, I don't know if I had a Strawberry Shortcake bike. Or we would swing from trees with no helmets, I could never wear roller skates, but we didn't have much thought about our own safety.

Certainly now, as more aggressive sport becomes part of our recreational activities. It's certainly part of our young people's daily activities. We recognize, over the years, that we have had far too many instances where young people and adults have been severely injured without having the proper safety equipment. This is one more piece of the puzzle, one more amendment that strengthens the already existing regulations around wearing helmets.

While I stand here I think it's important, too, that we move forward in creating environments for young people to be sharing in these activities. I know in my own area, several years back there was an attempt to build a skateboard park in the county, in the Town of Liverpool. It just didn't work out. Certainly the youth supported that endeavour, parents supported that endeavour, but unfortunately the funding wasn't there to see that move forward. There was certainly some concern that accidents would happen. Helmets weren't part of that strategy, and certainly the liability issues around having a public skate park and not having the necessary pieces to go along with that - that being the safety equipment that children and youth would be required to wear - it wasn't part of our regulations.

So it did fall through the cracks, and that's unfortunate because I think we need to move forward in making sure that we invest in recreational facilities and playgrounds, and whether they be skate parks or skating rinks or bicycle paths in our community, I think it's very important that we do move forward and invest in those strategies. If we're putting these regulations in place for youth to be safe, we want them to have good safe places to be experiencing these great recreational activities. I really hope that children still climb the odd tree and really enjoy the healthy lifestyle that recreational activities provide them.

Again, I support this bill. My message would be, let's educate our youth, let's get the message out there that helmets are cool and a good thing to wear. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 1914]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I just have a few words on this bill. I want to thank the member for Preston for bringing this forward, and the government for finally bringing this forward. I know it has been well over a year since this piece of legislation was first introduced by the member for Preston. Government didn't call it then, and went through several sessions, I believe, and finally they've realized the importance of a good piece of legislation, no matter what side of the political team you're on. When good legislation comes forward, government needs to recognize it and promote it.

I know this piece of legislation is supported by many organizations, many groups in this province, and I would like to mention a few of them. I know that BIANS, the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia, was instrumental in trying to push for changes to this bill to include stronger restrictions on the use of helmets. I personally have worked over the years as a paramedic with BIANS in some of the programs that they provide Nova Scotians, like one that I worked with them on, around the proper fitting of helmets for our children, and having the ability for parents and children to come to - in this case we were in the mall to get the proper fitting on helmets. I know that the paramedics in the province have supported that initiative and would support this piece of legislation.

I've seen, personally, the results of head injuries, especially when you see our children with these head injuries, and they're preventable. I've seen and been witness to horrific accidents in this province from individuals, and have seen them walk away without severe injuries. So the use of helmets is important, not only on motorized vehicles but on these type of vehicles, especially on bicycles, on scooters. I mean so often now we see changes in the devices that children are using for recreation and it's important that government recognize the need to change legislation that applies to safety.

Mr. Speaker, with that, it's good to see that this piece of legislation is coming through and is being called today in hopes of preventing even one injury to a Nova Scotian. Especially to the children of our province, I think it's well worth it and I will be supporting this piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I had to take the opportunity to just take a few minutes on this piece of legislation and the issue of using helmets, especially on bicycles and other recreational items. I have been wearing a helmet when I'm on my bicycle probably for 20 years now, when I first came to Halifax to university and it's hard to believe that a guy in my frame rides a bicycle. The member opposite who seems to be making funny comments, he tries, I know he does, but

[Page 1915]

ultimately for some time now I've been wearing a helmet. On three occasions now, I've got to say that helmet has served me very well.

Mr. Speaker, I remember one time when I was going to college in Ontario and I had the opportunity to ride my bike down to the beach, which was about 20 clicks down the road, and coming to a railway crossing. The railway crossing, instead of doing the 90 degrees across the road, it was one of those 45 degree angles. I remember really not paying so much attention to it, but the next thing you know, I was on the ground with my helmet whacking the ground. So I know in that instance that helmet came in handy for me.

I know just a few weeks ago I was riding my mountain bike with my young son. Of course, he's probably a better mountain biker than I am now. Andre is moving along quite well and getting very fast on his bike. So his old man was trying to follow him along and we were just going up a hill, I tell you there was some heavy breathing there, I can say. (Interruptions) No, I was riding the bike and I had invested not that long ago in some clips for my bike and really not too sure how to get my feet out of them. So, anyway, as we came to the stop, the bike came to a stop, I put the wrong foot down and, of course, I went down again and, once again, the helmet came in handy.

So, Mr. Speaker, what I'm really trying to say is that, you know, all folks should be wearing their helmets when they're riding their bikes, including on their skateboards, rollerblades, and on all types of recreational vehicles like that because they do help out and they do keep a lot of children and a lot of folks out of our emergency rooms across Canada and across Nova Scotia. So, with that, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing this to the floor of the Legislature for discussion.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the member, it will be to close the debate.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my honourable colleagues on both sides of the floor. This is a very important bill and, as I said earlier and it has been already said here by almost every member, if this can be implemented as soon as possible and, hopefully, that the Legislature will pass it. Again, as I said earlier, we'll never know how many people's lives haven't been changed because they haven't got a head injury, but if we can save just one person from having a serious head injury, this law is worth it.

Some people talked about enforcement. I think enforcement is partly education but most of the people typically will follow the law and they'll ensure that their children wear helmets when they go out, at least when they leave the house, and at least that's a step in the right direction. If that can happen over time, the seatbelts, I can remember the

[Page 1916]

seatbelt debate and I'm old enough to remember that. (Interruption) The honourable Minister of Health is probably old enough too, but he won't admit it.

I can remember the debate. There was a commissionaire actually at the time who said he would never wear a seatbelt and is probably wearing the seatbelt today. The number of lives that that has saved and the number of miserable things that have happened to families because of car accidents and other accidents and over time that has

indeed been a positive thing for all Nova Scotians. So I look forward to this going to the review, the next step of the bill, and to hear the input from the community and people in the community as to what their thoughts are on it.

Just before I sit down I'd like to thank Mr. Joel Lively, from my riding, who actually brought this to my attention - and I said this to the media before that oftentimes as politicians people in the community feel that when they call a politician nothing happens. It's nice to see that someone brought this to my attention, and the honourable members in the Legislature here see the wisdom of this bill and the department was very co-operative and helped to change the wording on the bill to make it better.

I think it's a testament to all the members here that the members are really here for one reason and it's to help Nova Scotians, and it's nice to see a Nova Scotian come forward with an idea and hopefully this will go through the Legislature and be made into law and indeed help some people from injury and the suffering that goes with it. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 86. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No.107.

[Page 1917]

Bill No. 107 - Midwifery Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased today to move this bill for second reading. Midwives are trained specialists who care for women throughout their pregnancy. They assist mothers and babies through low-risk births and, of course, through the following weeks, and they will help provide support to the health care system by working with family physicians and nurses and other primary health providers in delivering care to mums and families across Nova Scotia.

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, midwives in Nova Scotia are currently practising outside of a legislative mandate and are not integrated into the overall health care delivery system. We had them in the House yesterday at the introduction of this bill - and there are about 16 midwives practising across Nova Scotia of course outside this legislative mandate, and we did want to provide them with a piece of legislation and some regulations that they could work with within the health care delivery system. We've accepted recommendations from the primary maternity care working group to help legislate these midwives in Nova Scotia.

Pregnancy and childbirth are natural processes, and accessibility to primary maternity care is vital to healthy communities. Mr. Speaker, many of us have had the pleasure of having children - the guys say that's because I'm a guy, I'm sure women would probably say something a little different through their pregnancies - but I can say that I was there to provide a helping hand, when I could, to my dear wife through the pregnancies of our two children. I can say that maybe some extra help, including a guidebook for children, probably would have come in handy too.

Providing the right health care services in communities across Nova Scotia is important, and we want to have health teams of professionals and providers work in communities supporting mums and families. We know that midwives can be key team players collaborating with team members, including family physicians and nurses, ensuring mums and families get timely access to maternity care. Adding midwives to our teams of health care professionals allows us to better meet the needs of mums and families across Nova Scotia. This Act will allow midwives to work to their full scope of their practice as they do in other provinces and territories across Canada where they are legislated. This Act will also ensure a consistent standard of care for all midwives working throughout Nova Scotia. Unlike other provinces and territories throughout Canada we've been able to include an option in this Act that allows midwives to work in research and policy development.

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Today is a first step. Adding midwives to our teams of health care professionals will allow us to better meet the needs of mums and families across Nova Scotia. We are very pleased to be the seventh province in Canada and the first in Atlantic Canada to introduce midwifery legislation. Of course this is a first step to get this legislative mandate - this would cause the creation of a council and that council, as the Act stipulates, would include a number of health care professionals, including RNs and physicians, that would work towards the regulations and policies that would govern the day-to-day operation of the midwives.

Again, I can say as a parent, I know that this type of professional would have helped our family through our processes, through pregnancies, and, of course, again, after pregnancy. When first-time moms and first-time dads go home with babies, it's definitely a challenge, and to have that kind of support to follow them along would be a wonderful addition to our health care system.

Mr. Speaker, with those quick words, I, again, move second reading of Bill No. 107.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it's definitely a privilege to stand and speak on this piece of legislation revolving around the important profession of midwives and the profession of midwifery here in Nova Scotia. This isn't something new to our province. I want to make it very clear that the midwives who are currently practising in Nova Scotia have been doing so for a very long time, well before the system that we have and enjoy today. Mostly, I would say, and I could be wrong, but mostly women - I don't know if there are any males in the profession, I don't believe there are any in Nova Scotia - for centuries have been performing the duties of assisting in childbirth here in our province and across the country.

What I also want to state, Mr. Speaker, is this is long overdue. This is something that the midwives have been asking for from government for well over two decades. For over 23 years, they've worked and tried to promote the fact that they need to be recognized in this province. I was talking to one midwife who said she can't count the number of Health Ministers she has spoken to over the last 23 years to try to get to this step today. It's long overdue. I think government needs to recognize that they should have done this a long time ago. This government has had well over seven years to do this, and finally they're choosing to bring this forward - seven years they've been in government. Over the 23 years, they've had many opportunities to bring this forward. I wanted to make that very clear, Mr. Speaker.

This is long overdue. We've needed to recognize the women in our province who have been working and helping pregnancy and delivery of children in this province for many years. It's important to recognize that they need to be recognized as an important

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component of the health care system here in Nova Scotia, and recognize the duties that they do.

As the Minister of Health said, this is a first step. It is a first step. I could see the joy on the faces of many of them who were in the Red Chamber yesterday when the minister stated that he would introduce this piece of legislation. They were very happy. I know that in speaking with many of them there is a lot of concern revolving around the next steps, the steps that will follow after the passing of this piece of legislation. I have to say, the midwives and their organization are putting a lot of faith in the process that's going to occur after this piece of legislation passes, Mr. Speaker.

There's a lot of work to be done. There's a lot of things that need to be worked out and looked at in the creation of regulations that will support the profession of midwives and midwifery here in Nova Scotia. Currently in the province, they are not integrated in the health care system, midwives. They're not funded within Nova Scotia. They charge a private fee, currently, to any resident, any Nova Scotian who wants the assistance of a midwife during their pregnancy or during the delivery. They do not have hospital privileges, currently, in the system.

Mr. Speaker, these are individuals who have been practising for many years. They don't have the capacity to order routine prenatal testing or even an ultrasound in the province today, which I think needs to be recognized, that the current situation that we have is unacceptable. As I said earlier, it's long overdue that we recognize the work that they do and the contribution they can have during the prenatal stage and during a pregnancy for a woman here in Nova Scotia. We all know that there's a shortage of physicians and professionals who deal with delivery now in our province, not only in the more populated areas, but especially in the rural communities here in Nova Scotia. They are really suffering the shortage of trained professionals to help in delivery, in the prenatal aspect of pregnancy, and that post-delivery time where someone who is trained as a midwife could contribute and hopefully help with any problems or any care that is needed directly after delivery.

Mr. Speaker, we need to recognize that regulations are important. The next step in this process is very important for the profession, that we recognize what they do, and create the regulations to hopefully give the scope of practice that the midwives are looking for. They're putting a lot of faith in not only government but in the other professions in health, like the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Doctors Nova Scotia, the College of Nurses. They are going to look towards them to hopefully support the scope of practice that should be given to midwives here in this province.

We need to look across the country. We have many provinces in Canada that recognize and have legislation that regulates midwifery and the midwives who practice in their provinces, British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario, Northwest Territories, Manitoba - I think we're the seventh province that will introduce legislation like this - and also

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Alberta that recognizes it. I want to make it very clear to this government, the importance of those next steps, and the importance - one thing that astonished me yesterday - of recognizing the need to cover the services provided by midwives in the future. I was astonished yesterday during the briefing that the minister attended with members from the midwife association and actually a midwife herself, a practising midwife, who was there, when the media asked the Minister of Health about the coverage for the procedures that will cover midwives and the practice of midwifery in this province, the Minister of Health said, well, we're not sure if that's going to be covered, we haven't gotten there yet.

He not only said that once, Mr. Speaker, he said it twice, when he was asked twice. That really astonished me, and I was disappointed in that response. Here we are trying to do what we can to improve the health care system in this province, and we've heard time and time again from this government around the private flair, and I know the minister enjoys us bringing up some of the comments he has made, but the private flair to health care delivery in this province, that everything is on the table when it comes to health care in this province, and that in dealing with the possibility of private delivery that the potential is endless. I would think and I would hope that this government, and I would hope the Minister of Health will state this quite soon, that in this process, in the formation of regulations that the profession of midwifery and the job that midwives will do in this province will be covered under the public system. They need that to happen.

In the same comments, at the same time the minister made the comments yesterday around, not sure if we're going to cover it yet, we haven't gotten to that point yet, the lady on the end who was a practising midwife stated that it was imperative that this be covered under the public system, imperative, because there's one province in this country that doesn't cover this, and that is the Province of Alberta. All the other provinces cover it under the MSI or under their public health care system. She said that because of Alberta's decision not to cover this, it hurt that profession for many years in Alberta. It hurt it for many years. She did say, though, recently, there is an increase in the use in Alberta, but it's just because of the economic boom there, Mr. Speaker. She said that people can afford it now, and are actually paying for it in Alberta. She also said that the Province of Alberta is currently looking at changing that and in the near future will cover the cost of that discipline in health care under the public system.

So I hope the minister understands the importance of that, and the importance of covering this service, because midwives are going to be an integral part of the health care delivery system, the primary care delivery system for pregnancy, Mr. Speaker.

In this legislation it talks around, and hopefully in the creation of the regulations, how they'll work under the DHAs of this province, they'll work in collaboration with physicians, with specialists, with other health care providers like nurses and other disciplines, Mr. Speaker, to work as a team. That's the focus and that's the goal for the midwives and midwifery here in the province, to work as a team and as part of that team

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when it comes to prenatal care. I hope the minister understands it and I am going to repeat it again, that if this government chooses to go down that road of private delivery here in the province, this is an aspect or this is an area that they don't need to go down when we're talking around midwives.

The Minister of Health says fear-mongering. Well I am not fear-mongering, Mr. Speaker, the minister could stop this right now. I would sit down and let him say that he will cover this. The minister can stop the insecurities that many Nova Scotians have by opening up and telling us what this government is going to do to support and promote the public health care system in this province, but this minister refuses to do that. I think he continues to go down that road that Nova Scotians don't want to go down and Canadians don't want to go down, and that is private delivery of health care in this province and in this country. I have said it before and I'll say it again, that myself, my caucus members will stand up and fight any changes that tears apart or hurts the public system.

[4:00 p.m.]

That is what Nova Scotians expect us to do and I hope the government realizes that is what Nova Scotians want them to do, to support and create better opportunities to improve the public health care system in this province. So I hope the minister will state soon that with this profession and through the next process around the creation of regulations that will deem what the scope of practice and what midwives can do in this province and the important roles they are going to play, that they recognize that it has to be under the public system and we don't want to go down the road of that private delivery system, especially around midwives. That is not what they wanted, that is not what their intentions are. If we don't get that commitment from government, the profession of midwives and midwifery will fail in this province if they're not covered under the public system, Mr. Speaker, it'll fail. They have said it themselves, they know how important it is and we just look across the country. You just have to take my word for it, go to the other provinces, ask the Ministers of Health there how important the roles of midwives and midwifery are in those provinces when it comes to health care delivery. We heard it yesterday around Alberta and their decision not to cover it and it has hurt that profession. Now they are taking steps to change that and I hope they do that quickly.

So I hope the minister will be open and forthcoming with his ideas and his support of the public system, something that we haven't heard much from the minister over the last little while around supporting the system. So I welcome the minister's comments on this and I hope he stands up and does the right thing. I hope you do the right thing, Mr. Minister, around this profession. I hope you do the right thing and support this profession and I hope he realizes the importance of doing that.

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So with that, Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to see this finally come to the floor of this Legislature after many years. I look forward and will be watching with great intent on the creation and the steps that will come after this and hopefully to improve and support this profession and the health care system in Nova Scotia. So thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is always a pleasure to follow the member for Sackville-Cobequid. He is an eloquent speaker and I enjoy listening to him on many, many occasions. As I have said, many times before in this Chamber, there is just something about that guy I like, I don't quite know what it is.

Mr. Speaker, it is almost ironic that the first three speakers in this Legislature on this bill dealing with midwifery would be men. I look forward, first of all, to hearing from our female colleagues later on in debate, which I'm sure we will to get the other side of the story so to speak.

Speaking just on the bill itself this first of all has to be a lesson to all of us, a lesson that we've learned from the stakeholders involved in this story, a lesson of perseverance. As the member for Sackville-Cobequid alluded, this has gone on for a decade at least if not more. I have to mention a former colleague of mine, Dr. Jim Smith, who was a previous Health Minister in this Legislature for the Liberal Government at the time, was a strong advocate of midwifery but never had the chance unfortunately to bring it through. It is an idea whose time has come, there's no question about it. There's a very important component that's missing and that component, and the minister is quite well aware of this, is the component of funding.

If we are to proceed in any way, shape or form and make this a success in this province, that component of funding has to be and is an essential part of this health care team. It has to be there, Mr. Speaker, it's something that has to be dealt with. I listened with great interest to a midwife representative outside the Chamber the other day doing an interview when asked what they charge for their services and so on. They do have somewhat of what she referred to as a sliding scale depending on your income - I'm not going to give the figures because I can't recall off the top of my head - but it appeared to me at the time that some of the people who certainly could most use this service in this province may well not be able to afford it right now. That's part of the problem without that funding, if you can't pay for it you can't use the service. Many of those people would come from rural areas of Nova Scotia - again as my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid alluded.

There are some other concerns that we have with this legislation. We're in favour of self-regulating legislation, there's absolutely no question about that, we don't like the idea of leaving all of the decisions to council or regulations made by Cabinet and so on - there are concerns about that. We are encouraged by the government acknowledging that

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self-governing legislation for professional bodies, as we have been in many other instances that we've seen, but the Legislature itself has the duty, has the responsibility to ensure the protection of the citizens of Nova Scotia. We cannot, nor should we in our opinion, leave everything to be decided by Cabinet or council to regulate or determine legislation. We think that is a very slippery slope to start going down and we want to bring that to everyone's attention.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is a lesson for all of us that the fact that this has taken that long, the lesson that is to be learned here is that I guess government can pay attention, we can pay attention to the people who are talking to them. I congratulate the minister on taking that first step forward, I also remind the minister at the same time that it's a very small step forward and small steps can sometimes become big steps if you make sure that you have the right footwear - this time the footwear would include funding. It has to be there in order that midwives are indeed recognized as an important component, as they should be, of our health care teams of this province. With those brief remarks I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely delighted to have an opportunity to stand in my place here today and speak in support of this bill, Bill No. 107, an Act Respecting Midwifery. I want to start by offering a very sincere congratulations to the Minister of Health with respect to bringing this bill forward. In all sincerity, I think this is quite a significant piece of legislation and this is an occasion that we should celebrate, that actually there is some movement on an issue that for far too long was neglected.

I also want to congratulate the Midwifery Coalition of Nova Scotia for their persistence and their patience. I don't know if I were in their shoes if I would have persisted as long and with such incredible patience as they demonstrated. I think it's important to start by saying that people need to recognize that we actually have in the Province of Nova Scotia, prior to this legislation, a number of very capable and well-trained midwives who were very limited in what it was they were able to offer to prospective parents in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Quite often, their involvement ended at the doors of the hospital. Really what this does is it opens up the access of midwives to follow people they have been supporting throughout a pregnancy, through the actual birthing process and then back into the post-natal process. This is very, very important because it really does accept for the first time and entrench the intentions of the Province of Nova Scotia to recognize a realistic scope of practice for midwifery in the province. This is, as I said, a day that's long overdue.

It's rather incredible in a way that we're here at this stage giving recognition for probably one of the oldest professions in many respects in the history of civilization. The

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practice of midwifery is a very old practice. In other parts of the western world, midwifery is very much an accepted part of a continuum of care in the process of pregnancy and birth.

Today we have the added challenge of seeing a dramatic reduction in the number of physicians, family physicians in particular, who are prepared to deliver babies. More and more it's the case that women around this province are in situations where they find it very, very difficult to find a qualified person to follow them from the point of conception through delivery and post-natal care.

We all know that these are absolutely critical periods for children, for the development of children. One of the leading indicators of the determinants of health and health risk is healthy birth weights and really being able to work with and provide support to a first-time parent or a parent who is going through difficulties around pregnancy. To have that kind of supportive person who is able to have access to diagnostic services and various other things that can be provided to ensure that pregnancy is healthy and that ultimately the birth experience is a healthy experience, one where risks are minimized and the outcomes are positive for mother and child. This is so important and this is what midwives do.

There is vast literature on the significant changes that have occurred with respect to childbirth, particularly in countries like ours, in western societies. If you look at the statistics, the numbers of intrusive interventions in what, for most pregnancies should be low-risk, natural processes, are really quite significant. The use of forceps in birth, the number of cesarian sections has grown quite significantly.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not too happy to say that when you look at the Atlantic Provinces - and I think New Brunswick probably has one of the worst records in the country, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women has undertaken a program of really monitoring what has occurred with respect to the healthy births in the Province of New Brunswick. You know, Nova Scotia doesn't fare a heck of a lot better. We are somewhat in a better position, but not so much that we can walk around with our chests stuck out saying what great people we are. We really do have, I think, to monitor the use of very intrusive procedures in the birthing process.

[4:15 p.m.]

It sometimes causes me and many other people serious concern to see the impact that the Hollywood set, the jet set have on all kinds of cultural practices, really, throughout our society. There is a growing tendency to have Cesarean sections as a very quick way and a perceived way to avoid the pain of natural childbirths. But, Mr. Speaker, Cesareans bring with them their own difficulties, and this is not something that I think we should be accepting uncritically. I think there needs to be some reflection on what the implications are of these greatly intrusive processes into the birthing process

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that reflect a high use of technology, a high use of intervention and, actually, surgical requirements and surgical procedures that wouldn't necessarily be required at all in the course of a natural birth, one that is not high risk.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is the profession of midwives, I believe, that brings the expertise and also brings that kind of critical reflection and perspective on how childbirth, particularly a childbirth that is not a high-risk childbirth, can proceed in both a very cost-effective and natural kind of way.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, both in this caucus and in the Liberal caucus, have spoken to their concerns around the lack of commitment from the government and from the minister with respect to how midwifery services will be funded as they are integrated into the health care system. I, too, share this concern. That the minister is unable to commit to covering, through our public health care system, the cost of midwifery services is, I think, a very serious problem and omission in terms of where we're going. I look forward to hearing the minister say that, in fact, these services will be covered in the public system.

I want to lay out why I think it's important that these services be covered in the public system. Number one, midwives' services actually will be a bargain, they will be a bargain in terms of having experienced, capable people proceed with a pregnant mother throughout that process, healthier babies, healthier mothers, less intrusive which means less costly procedures, being able to have people spend less days in maternity wards. Less readmission to hospital or to an emergency room, or even a physician's office. This is the tangible impact of having the appropriate people provide the appropriate services at the appropriate time throughout the birthing process.

In addition to this, Mr. Speaker, we need to have a system that provides people who want midwifery services the access to that system, including people who aren't high income and don't have the disposal income available to purchase privately the services. There should be no difference between a mom who has a low-income than a middle-income or a higher-income person. This is a fundamental piece of the principles of our health care system. In addition to that, to be able to maintain your licence as a midwife and to be able to maintain your skills will require that those people are able to do at least some minimum amount of work on a regular basis. If, in fact, we privatize this part of the service, then I think we could very much see a jeopardizing of the opportunities that will be required for people to be able to practise and maintain their licence.

So if we set up that kind of a private-pay, fee-for-service regime, we could undermine this whole system that is the right way to go - and we all share that belief that this is the right way to go, but getting there, how we get there is fundamental. I believe the only way that we can ensure a high-quality midwifery program in the Province of Nova Scotia is to ensure that it's publicly funded and is very much a feature of our

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public health care system. So these are things that are all very important when you take into consideration where we're going.

Mr. Speaker, you know, training and education is also a piece of what we will be looking at. The criteria for entry into the act of practice of midwifery and to get a licence is yet to be defined. It will be defined in the regulations. In the Province of Nova Scotia right now we have no training institutions that offer the training for midwives. There is a program that I'm aware of at Ryerson University. One of our former members of this Legislature, Yvonne Atwell's daughter is currently training in that program, I think this is her last year. I've spoken with her on several occasions, Rhonda, and she tells me it's a phenomenal program. She is somebody who would very much like to come back to the Province of Nova Scotia to be able to practice.

I've heard from many Nova Scotians as a matter of fact, Nova Scotian women. One of my former social work students, who may actually be from or close to the minister's riding, has gone to the United States and taken training as a midwife. I know various people who had midwifery training. They're also very concerned about how it is that they're going to be able to be mentored and supervised. You don't just go and take a program and then show up the next day and hang your shingle out and start to practise. There often is a process of having to do so many hours of work and follow a number of people through pregnancy delivery and what have you. This is all done under the supervision of people who have the skills and the training and the qualifications and experience.

We have to work to create that critical mass here in the province to make sure that over time the services of midwives around our province will be valued and will be utilized fully. Mr. Speaker, I very much look forward to the day when we do have throughout all of our communities in the province access to high-quality maternity care before the birthing process, during and after, for women who tend to be the midwives in our communities.

When I was a little girl, I can remember different times the old party line - the phones - would be going and there would be a woman in the community who would be going into labour and people would be out looking for the local woman who lived somewhere along the party line who was always the person who had been there monitoring that pregnancy, giving the advice and then often going to the home and being with that person through the early stages of the delivery process and sometimes doing a home birth. Although this legislation does not equal home birth, this legislation very much is about integrating midwifery as a bonafide, essential, valued part of maternity care in the Province of Nova Scotia into our health care system and I would hope into our public health care system.

Mr. Speaker, those are my thoughts on Bill No. 107, and again I want to say how pleased I am to have had an opportunity to say a few things on this bill. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I too am so pleased to stand here and speak to Bill No. 107 respecting midwifery. As a mother of three children, my oldest being 27 just this past week, nothing gave me more pleasure than carrying my three children. If only I had at that time, 27 years ago, the opportunity to make choice as to where and with whom I would be delivering my children and I can tell you that all three of my births I had some very interesting and in some ways traumatic experiences within our clinical delivery system. I by no way am suggesting that there is not room - obviously we have a wonderful health care system and over the years many women and children have had successful experiences.

However, echoing the words of my colleague before me, midwifery has been with us since time began and certainly is a centuries-old health care practice and tradition of women assisting women in childbirth. The birth of children was a very big part of community and I'm so pleased that we are moving this forward because it actually brings community, birthing, and babies all together and I think that's so important. It's so important to see women have choice in the way they determine and their families determine what is the best practice for them; if they choose to give birth at home, surrounded by family, with the trusted midwife, or if they choose to use our clinical services within our current health care system.

Again, I'm so pleased, and I, too, congratulate the minister for bringing this bill forward. Kudos to the midwifery association that has been working so hard to see their practice recognized, and this bill actually gives that recognition, along with licensing those midwives as professionals, and it brings a vital complement to our primary health care system, and it certainly is welcome news for women and families all across this province.

Certainly, there's no question that midwives are health care professionals. They provide safe, effective care for women during pregnancy, during labour and delivery, and after birth. Midwives are indeed experts, they promote the health and safety of mothers and babies, providing that personalized care which is so important. As a woman and as a mother, I can tell you that nothing is more important than having a professional caregiver who absolutely understands and makes it a personalized experience.

[4:30 p.m.]

I remember several times going through some of my experiences. I would think to myself, as I was looking at the male doctor, what the heck does he really know? What does he mean, he knows how I feel? It's absolutely a ridiculous kind of situation to find yourself in as a woman, especially when you're going through that birthing experience.

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The bonding, it's such an important part for a woman and her baby, during pregnancy and even prior to, thinking about child rearing. It's just such a special experience that I think midwives bring, that very personalized sense of knowing, regardless of whether they themselves have had children or not. There is that certain identification. So for that, minister, you deserve kudos for recognizing that.

As I said, midwives are indeed the experts, promoting the health and safety of mothers, providing that personalized service, and respecting the social needs and diversity of families, and that's so important, too, because, again, it comes with the understanding of that particular profession, that centuries-old tradition of going into communities and working with families, working with women, and absolutely being able to look at the total environment of the family, the woman and the child. Those social needs and the diversity is so important, and these midwives, they have so much expertise in that field. So moving this bill forward is a major step forward, ensuring that midwifery becomes a strong addition to our already existing health care teams.

Therefore, I think it's truly essential that this government ensure that midwifery be accessible for all women, regardless of status of income; all women who wish to choose their own care and services when they're delivering their children, when they're going through that experience of pregnancy, when they're going through that labour and delivery. It's so important that this be accessible to all women, especially in rural Nova Scotia where we have seen cuts to our rural community hospitals, where most hospitals now don't offer obstetric services and delivery of children in our hospitals. Women are having to travel great distances just to see the family obstetrician. So it's really important that this is really accessible to all women across the province.

Again, I stress that this needs to be a publicly funded system. Midwives and the midwifery profession need to be assured they are going to be able to roll out their services in a way that they can deliver to all women and all families who make this choice. They need to be able to work to their full scope of practice. That's going to be so important that when regulations come through, we're looking at the full scope of practice for these midwives.

These midwives will certainly provide their expertise and it will be working along side of our nurses and doctors and other health professionals in our communities and so it's very important this government has acted to move this forward and recognize that midwifery will bring a very strong piece to our health care system that has been needed for far too long. So, again, this is a good day.

It will take the burden off a lot of our current, strained health care systems. That being, in our rural communities, lacking the obstetric services close to home. Midwives are going to offer this province flexibility and accessible care across this province, whether it be in hospitals or in homes. They're going to be available 24 hours a day. I agree with the member earlier, who said this is certainly going to be a bargain for this

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province. Midwives are going to be delivering a service that is going to effectively save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in the long term, in pre-natal care and post-natal care. They are going to be recognizing difficulties that may be apparent during that pre-natal period.

They are going to be networking so efficiently with our other health care professionals and working within our community. Again, I stress, as this bill moves forward, it's really important we recognize when the implementation of regulations comes forward, that we do allow those midwives to be working at their full potential.

A member of my community had called me last week knowing it was possible for this bill to be coming forward and was hoping, very much so, to have her own thoughts known. She had a wonderful experience with a midwife about a year ago and what she told me was really heartwarming. She shared her experience with me - both her first child who was born in hospital and her second child who she was fortunate enough to access a wonderful midwife. What she told me was that in the comfort of her own home, with her family, she was able to have the most relaxing experience in terms of giving birth to her second child. It was relatively pain free for her, it was a very serene experience for her and her family.

She described for me that the months leading up to the birth, the expertise of the midwife was second to none. She felt totally comfortable in the hands of this midwife. She had given her total trust of her care to this midwife and she had a most wonderful experience. She wanted to share that with me, but also she did share with me that she wasn't able to get the full scope of services that this midwife was able to offer because the fees were so prohibitive for her so she really had to select when she was able to afford to have certain parts of the services that the midwife was able to provide. What was crucial for her was that she was able to afford to have the midwife present at the home birth.

So, she stressed very importantly to me that, for most women with the fees involved, currently midwife services is really prohibited for a lot of women. Again I stress to the minister that as we walk forward with this, that you ensure that this service, this most important service, is publicly funded and really truly becomes that good complement to the rest of our publicly delivered health care system. All women should have the benefit of having free choice in determining when, with whom, where and what best services suit their own needs. It's important for all women of the whole economic spectrum, whether it be a single mom, whether it be a mom in the low-income bracket, middle-income bracket moms and dads, high-income bracket - all women should have access to this wonderful service. Again I look forward to seeing the minister take seriously those suggestions and again kudos to you for recognizing midwifery in this province, finally in the 21st Century, bringing babies, community and birthing back together.

[Page 1930]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is my intention to rise in support of this Bill No. 107 and to congratulate the minister without any negatives thrown in behind the congratulations, as I have done with a couple of other ministers in the past. I want to, in a very forthright way, offer a support to this bill with absolutely no conditions attached.

Now the minister spoke in relationship to another bill, it was the bill in relationship to the Motor Vehicle Act and helmets. He was talking about on the weekend, last weekend, being out with his son and having difficulty on a bicycle. Perhaps why I'm not being able to find any negatives here is because many years back I used to be the boss of his uncle and his family shared the same driveway with the uncle and I spent many times in his uncle's house and I remember him when he was having difficulty on his own bicycle back in those days. Having said that, I want to say how important this is to the Province of Nova Scotia. The fact that this has been sought for 23 years - 23 years, Mr. Speaker, there have been efforts made to have this kind of recognition for midwifery. Even though this government did have seven years to do it, it is this minister who has actually brought it forward.

Now I expect that number to grow from 16 as we develop training and licensing. I hope the same wisdom will be used in the development of that training and licensing in the regulations as exists in the bill itself. I don't expect the number of deliveries by midwives to increase very rapidly, I think it will be a gradual transition, I don't expect that the birthings will be taking place in any large number in homes. I believe that there will be much more prenatal care involved. I believe that there will be more presence at the time of delivery and the actual doing of the delivery by midwives, but I also believe that there will be more postnatal, postpartum care as a result of this.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I always relate back in some way to out-migration. Rural areas are areas that can, in fact, take great advantage of this midwifery situation that is developing in this province. Places in my riding, like Lismore, Ardness, Kenzieville, Sunnybrae - areas that are far removed from doctors' services and so on, I believe there is a role there for midwives, a great role.

My concern in relationship to this whole situation is that, with the decline of a rural population and an aging population, that unless something is fundamentally changed in rural Nova Scotia, there will not be very much business for midwives in rural areas, other than in Halifax County.

If midwives are to be employed in rural Nova Scotia, we need a new vision for rural economic development, or at least we need some vision for rural economic development. Sons and daughters have to have reasons to stay in our communities. If we are going to have babies in those communities, they have to be there.

[Page 1931]

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I helped to provide three fine children years ago, children that helped to keep our school open, who attended our universities, who attended two community colleges and they have gone on to provide taxation to sustain the services in this province. Now all three of them are in the greater Halifax area, which is in one way a blessing - it is much better than so many who have been lost to Alberta - but people of my generation can't help to increase the workload of midwives. The baby boomers will no longer be contributors and I guarantee this House that in my case, my day is done.

Mr. Speaker, we have to do something in relationship to our rural communities so there will be a role for midwives in those communities. Now I attended the delivery of our three children back in 1969 with Jill and in 1970 with Kent and in 1978 with Sarah and I experienced the joy firsthand but Mary K, my wife, experienced both the joy and the pain. With these deliveries, midwives would have provided very personal service, very personal care. The doctors were good but Mary K was one of many, many patients, hundreds of patients. So I believe that the midwives, the 16 midwives that we have in Nova Scotia, will increase in number and provide very valuable service to our communities, both urban and, hopefully, rural as well.

Now the minister has shown great leadership on this issue and I would hope that the minister would also show leadership on the issue of recognition for dental hygienists in the Province of Nova Scotia. They are, in fact, 1,600 strong, not 16 but 1,600 strong, and they still have dentists as their gatekeepers.

Mr. Speaker, some provinces have second-generation legislation in relationship to dental hygienists and the recognition of them. We don't even have first-generation legislation. Mr. Minister, please show the kind of leadership that you have with the Midwifery Bill, and do the same in recognition of dental hygienists in this province. As the member for Sackville-Cobequid and the member for Queens and others have mentioned, there is a need that this service has to come under the public system. It is imperative that this come under the public system, like other provinces. It is only the Province of Alberta, the most right-wing province in this country, that does not cover such services (Interruptions) And also the richest one, as the member opposite has indicated.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that with so many other jurisdictions recognizing the service under a public system and provision of the payment of such, we are only talking at this point of 16 midwives in the province. I sincerely hope that we will, in fact, some day, have a very good service, one that we can be proud of, one that is a public service, and one that reaches out to rural Nova Scotia as much as it does to urban Nova Scotia. Let's keep our people in the rural areas, let's find new ways to repopulate some of our rural areas that are seeing so much out-migration.

[Page 1932]

I want to conclude by again congratulating the minister on what he has been able to do, and I also want to congratulate the Midwifery Coalition for the leadership shown by them. I sincerely hope that we will have leadership on other fronts and that no segment has to ever wait again for any kind of a service for a period of 25 years. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I'm very glad to rise to speak to this, because I suspect that, like a number of my colleagues, I've been labouring under some misconceptions about midwifery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Labouring.

MS. RAYMOND: I know. Specifically that it's necessarily equivalent to home birth. I would just like to make it very clear, once and for all, that the choice to use a midwife is not necessarily the same as a choice for a home birth. I think that's one of the things that perhaps has caused some of the resistance over time to this. Certainly there's no doubt that, as I say, a happy birth experience is very important as a health promotion, as an element of health promotion of mother and infant. Again, and congratulations, the physical facilities of the Nova Scotia hospitals today are infinitely, vastly improved and vastly much more family-centred than those which were, in fact, available when my two children were born in 1986 and 1989. It's a little bit of a rite of passage to say that they were born in the old Grace Maternity Hospital.

I should say that when my children were born and I told people, friends in other parts of the country that they had been born at a place called the Grace Maternity, they were overwhelmed. My friends said, you've got a maternity hospital. They said, how lovely, we have to give birth amongst people who are dying and ill, and it's a very unhappy situation. So I must say that in that sense, even though perhaps the maternity hospital was a little bit of a throwback, we have at least, as a province, recognized the very special role of a time of birth and a time of healthy birth and the role that has in life subsequently.

Having said that, I think it's important to say that the only successful birth experience, the only successful outcome is, in fact, a healthy infant and a healthy mother, and I don't think anybody will ever step back from that. We do realize at this point that there are less drastic ways to reach that goal in most cases. I really do need to pause and tell a story here. When I was born in 1958, my mother was apparently something of a curiosity. This was in Toronto, and doctors came to visit her, she was a subject of interview because they wanted to meet the woman who wanted to nurse her own child - that's how far we've come. At this point, there is a worldwide initiative sponsored by UNICEF called Baby Friendly Hospitals and that's a really very important piece of the health of the community. We understand now that the subsequent health of infants is

[Page 1933]

fostered much by not having been dependent on formula, and I'm sorry to say that we have not yet in Nova Scotia reached the point where we have anything certified as a baby friendly hospital.

One of the most important elements of that certification is that the hospital does commit to not supplying low-cost or even free infant formula. That's important because those first few hours and days of an infant's life are extraordinarily - it's a time of fleeting sensitivity that can never be recouped. It's true that a child who doesn't nurse in the initial days will have considerably, what should I say, less inclination at the very least, to nurse later. That, of course, does tend to produce less of a health immune system.

We have been very lucky in Nova Scotia - and I in particular have been very fortunate in my riding - that there's an organization called the Single Parent Centre, which certainly doesn't work just with single parents, but which has been training volunteer labour support coaches - I think the word is doula. The interesting part of that is that these volunteer doulas work with women during the time of pregnancy, accompany them at birth, and subsequently are available in that first sensitive and transient period of time. We know that postpartum depression is significantly decreased when women have had a supported labour and delivery. This is something that midwives are very specifically trained not only to be companions but to actually avoid as much as possible the extremes of intervention which can, in fact, leave both woman and child somewhat physically and apparently emotionally traumatized.

Although it may seem silly to talk about these first few days, and the successful birth experience is of course the physically healthy mother and child, we need to think as well about the successful life experience. The incidents of postpartum depression are highly correlated with the stresses of later depression - we know this - and if you add to the fact that postpartum depression is somewhat lessened by a supported delivery, then we can say that this is a very important initiative in terms of mental health in our province.

I should also say that there's another thing which is sometimes correlated and sometimes supported. There is certainly a great deal of folklore around giving birth and the whole story of it. I know I was absolutely horrified before my first daughter was born to be surprised by a baby shower. A part of the tradition was to absolutely scare the life out of the woman who was about to give birth for the first time; come up with the most gory, dreadful and terrifying stories which obviously would scare anybody into the arms of the forceps but that is certainly a part of that tradition. If we had people who were able to give a slightly more positive story than that, then we also have better chances of lower interventions.

There's another part of that tradition which I mentioned the other day and I'm afraid I have to mention it again, which is that midwives are very frequently, in addition

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to being supportive of natural feeding of infants, also often supportive of the non-disposal diaper alternative. The fact of the matter is that we are generating enormous amounts of methane from landfills from those four million diapers a day that go into landfill and those 10,000 disposal diapers per child. If we could even halve or take away by 25 per cent, the amount of disposable diapers going into landfill, as well as causing or believed to be implicated in some asthmatic responses, then we would also be gaining some.

To the degree that a woman is not completely exhausted and alone and left with an infant, a bottle and a pile of disposal diapers and told to manage, then perhaps we are, in fact, making an investment. In making an investment in new mothers and new human beings, we are making an investment in the future. If it takes specialists, if it takes people who are involved in the psychological aspect of that who are well trained and if we, as a province, recognize them and what they are doing for our health system now and quite possibly for our health system and our environment in the future, then I say this bill deserves all of our support.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be able to stand to speak to this piece of legislation. I want to applaud the minister for going down this road. This is a good move on the part of the government.

[5:00 p.m.]

Well, I guess we've had a lot of male views on midwifery. I have to say the one thing I guess that seems surprising to me is how much all of us in this House would seem to know about the term and yet we live in a society that very seldom uses the service. I would say that because we have some level of comfort with the terminology that that certainly puts us in a place that makes it easy for us to see the benefit of this legislation.

It's hard to think of a world that actually had this service provided on a regular basis in communities, well as my colleagues have all mentioned, either since the beginning of time, or the beginning of civilization. Certainly in the very birthing of this country, midwives would have been there for the delivery of new Canadians here. I think that, I know we could think about the big net or the commercial on television which shows the sleigh ride in the winter, you know, trying to get the midwife to the log cabin and that very much was the real world of delivering children in this country. (Interruption)

My colleague said I'm a science teacher and not a history teacher. I was a biology teacher and as much as I taught my students about human sexuality and the processes that resulted in the conception of human beings, I have to say that it is one of those things that has been made in the most simple biological terms. It is one of those

[Page 1935]

processes that, as much as we might try to make it complex, it is by and large the most simple of processes and it has always been something that has amazed me because of the simplicity of it.

Mr. Speaker, I'm certainly not a midwife, but I make several deliveries every year in my farm. It's an area which I hope I don't have to. If I deliver 10 lambs in a winter, that's really about all I would really like to do because that usually means there's going to be a complication. But I've been very fortunate, I usually only require a veterinarian once a winter.

But, through that process I think about the seriousness of the delivery of children or delivery of babies into this world and how fortunate we are with all the technology and the health care system and the hospitals that we have and how lucky we are to live in this environment for those deliveries.

I have four children and I have to say we all have a good idea about what's going to happen when our children are born, but it certainly is an experience. Although more painful for my wife, it was one that makes you think a lot and worship the gift that you've been given. I really have to say how thankful I was for the nurses, in particular, at the Grace Maternity Hospital. I was surprised at the process that basically this is a process the nurses kind of carried on that role pretty much right up to the birth of my children.

The doctors showed up and my local family doctor, which I thought was great that they were able to be there, and I was surprised and pleased, I guess - I don't know that I should say surprised - at their dedication in one way. One of our doctors was there for the whole process and I was a little curious as to why that was because my previous three children, the doctor only showed up just at the end. It seemed odd that this doctor stayed in the room pretty much as the labour kind of progressed. Actually, I came to find out they knew more than I did, obviously, that my daughter's umbilical cord was around her neck so they were monitoring that very closely. My doctor had stayed right there, which I was really impressed and pleased with Dr. MacNeil who did that, and with a very happy result at the end.

I only had one constituent, actually, who raised the issue of midwifery. This is someone who was interested in carrying on this practice and I may have this wrong because she's not in my constituency anymore, but I think she and her husband moved to Ontario, where it was my understanding she got some training to practice midwifery. This was an issue for her that the province had no legislation in this regard. So, I'm hoping this will open a door for her and perhaps she may come back and for other women in this province.

One of my siblings was delivered by a midwife in Elmsdale and so as much as we think that occurred in the very, very distant past, it hasn't. I guess maybe that's why

[Page 1936]

I have some level of comfort knowing that in that case things went very well with the expertise of the woman who helped my mother.

So, this is about choice, I hope, for women who have a level of comfort with midwifery and would like to have their children delivered by midwives. I can only see that making this birthing process as comfortable and least stressful as possible can only have positive outcomes.

So I am pleased to see the minister bring this bill forward. I have to echo the concerns of my colleagues around how the service will be delivered or how it will be paid for. It would be very important that this is covered in the public system, and that this doesn't become an issue for those who can afford it and those who can't afford it. This is a service that, if it is to have the health benefits that I think the minister is after - that he recognizes the health benefits for both women and children on the issue of health - this will be covered by our health care system so that anyone who wishes to make use of this service will.

So I look forward to this bill going through the House. I am curious and interested to see what else happens with this legislation and the service as it is delivered in the province. With that, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do want to take no more than five minutes, I think, to comment on this bill. I think like most of my colleagues on this side and on the other side, as well, I think this is a big step forward. It has been a long time coming. I was talking with Jan Catano yesterday, who is one of the leading members of the Midwifery Coalition. I asked her when she first got involved in it, and she said 23 years ago. It has been a long time, and you have to commend the coalition for fighting that battle over such a long time. Certainly, looking back on it now, if we can talk about where we are past that, I think that you wonder what all the fuss was about.

This bill does provide a great measure of recognition and respect to a profession that has been recognized elsewhere in the world and has worked without any great difficulty. I think it is a particularly important issue in a general way because it is largely practiced by women. It is a predominantly female profession and we know that with these professions, like nurse practitioners and dental hygienists, they seem to have a very difficult time getting the recognition and respect they deserve. I think this is a big step forward for this group and for women, both who practice the art, but also who will benefit from it.

I also think it fills a very important gap in our health care system. We have a shortage of obstetricians and family doctors, particularly in rural areas, and this provides a willing and able group of experts who are able to take some of the load off doctors to

[Page 1937]

practice and to make that practice more meaningful, and also to free up specialists to do other things. So it fills a gap.

Thirdly, and importantly, it speaks to the physical and emotional health, being of the mother and the child. This provides a de-institutionalized setting, usually in the home, and it creates a much more positive experience for both the mother and the child, and I should say the father and the rest of the family, who can be more engaged and more involved in this very important occasion.

As my colleagues have said on this side, there is still an awful lot of work to be done. It has taken 23 years and more to get to this point, but there is still a question of integration into the health care system. As the nurse practitioners know, the devil really is in the detail, and the devil rests on the good will of the professions and the institutions and their ability to integrate properly and become really meaningful partners in this process.

I think the Midwifery Coalition has benefitted from the experience of the nurse practitioners group, but we hope that they don't have to go through the same experience, and that there will be a great deal of education around that in areas where midwives will first start to practice, because those pioneers will break a lot of ground and it'll be very hard work for them but we hope it's not as hard as it was for the nurse practitioners.

We hope someday to see this as part of a larger philosophy of integration of other health professionals like chiropractors and dental hygienists into the process so that we can free some of the wait times and things like that that we have in the health care system. There is the question of funding and differential access, that this can't be something that's only available to the privileged or even those who live in urban areas. It has to be something that's generally across the board because it's the right thing, it's a good thing, and in terms of economy it's the cheapest way to deliver this very important service.

We have to work with the hospitals and doctors in particular to make sure that these midwives have some privileges at hospitals and other health care facilities, that they're not treated as second-class citizens in this important endeavour. The composition of the governing boards in this profession will have to respect the importance of midwives - give the midwives the majority and have at least one midwife present for the effective making of decisions given that this is a profession that is eventually going to be a self-regulating profession. We have to recognize the fact that they have the largest stake in this profession and for that reason they should have the largest say in it. In general I agree with what my colleagues on this side have said, it is a big step forward for the profession itself and for women and families in Nova Scotia. I commend the government for bringing this forward even though it's taken them a long, long time to get here.

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[5:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members opposite for their interventions on this very important bill. Just to maybe speak to a few pieces of the concerns that the members did bring up during their time up. We are talking about integration of a health care professional into a health care team and as we continually try to vary the services to front-line people, Nova Scotians. We're talking about nurse practitioners, we're talking about midwives in this case working with the health care teams along with physicians because as we go along we do need to do things differently.

I know the member for Halifax Atlantic brought up during her time how it has changed in her lifetime from the time she was born and a mother kind of being a little off by breast-feeding. Twelve years later, and I can use the story of my mother-in-law when she had my wife, of course the doctor was going to prescribe pills to dry her up. My mother-in-law asked the question, dry what up? The physician said, well, you're not going to breastfeed are you? She said, of course I am. I mean that's the kind of changes that we've had in just a short period of time. We look at my father and many people in the community of West Pubnico, were born at home, we've gone almost full circle, not to the point that midwifery equals home delivery but I think what it means is that there's going to be a full range of services going back a little more to the roots - the natural aspects of birth and delivery.

Mr. Speaker, I want to also thank and comment that this province, out of the seven that have midwifery legislation, is the only province now to have had midwives at the table during the drafting of that legislation and we'll continue to use them. They are the experts in this field and using their expertise as we go forward with the drafting of the policies and regulations that will go forward. I do want to thank the Midwifery Coalition of Nova Scotia for their tenacity because they've been at this for a heck of a long time to get government to bring this piece of legislation forward. I can say that I've got thousands of cards from the Midwifery Coalition - nice little purple cards that I'm sure many of you got, I'm sure I got double the amount that other members would have gotten - and I want to thank them again for their tenacity and their hard work in bringing this piece forward.

I also want to thank somebody from my constituency, Renee Muise. Renee Muise is a resident of Tusket, originally comes from Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau , a social worker and also a midwife, did her training, and also has travelled around the world providing that service to citizens around the world. Something tells me she was in Indonesia last,

[Page 1939]

but I'm not exactly sure of the location. She has spent some time outside of Canada perfecting the skills of midwives.

I also want to make a comment. The challenge that we've had over the last number of months in bringing this piece forward, and I think the challenge that the department has had over the last number of years, is the issue of the self-regulation. As you're creating a self-regulating body, you need to have a core group in order to self-regulate. The problem with the midwives is that there were only 16, or less at a certain point. It was very difficult for them to self-regulate themselves.

I think we've come up with an option for them in setting up this council that does not only include midwives but other health professionals who they will interact with in the future. As I talk about it, this is about integration of another health care professional into our health care system.

Mr. Speaker, finally, when we talk about the issue of funding, we're still at a point where we don't have a program, we don't know exactly how they will be integrating into that health care system. I think it would be prudent for me as minister to make sure we have a developed program to bring forward to Cabinet for their perusal. There is a fair amount of work to be done still, and I look forward to bringing that information forward and supporting this profession, and I'm glad that we can get back to a point to utilize them within our health care system here in Nova Scotia. With those quick words, I will move second reading of Bill No. 107.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 107.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 95. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 113.

Bill No. 113 - Environment Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

[Page 1940]

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to move second reading of Bill No. 113, which makes significant improvements to Nova Scotia's Environment Act. It brings an already effective law up to date, and adds some clarity and certainty in some key areas. Before we introduced this bill, we wanted to find out what Nova Scotians thought about the proposed amendments. In total, we consulted 26 individuals, governments, business organizations and environmental groups across this province.

Some examples of the groups we consulted, for the information of the House, include environmental organizations such as Clean Nova Scotia and the Ecology Action Centre, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Nova Scotia Power, Bowater Mersey, Michelin, and Neenah Paper was also consulted in this process. In addition, Mr. Speaker, municipalities and other organizations including the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Municipality of Lunenburg, to keep my colleague happy, and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture was also invited to offer their comments.

Mr. Speaker, we've taken the time on this bill for a full review of the proposed amendments, and we've listened to the comments of many Nova Scotians about how best to protect our environment, including members of the Opposition Parties. I believe the following proposed amendments reflect not only the core beliefs of this government but also those of Nova Scotians as a whole. We are proposing more aggressive targets for waste diversion, which will lower our disposal rate to 300 kilograms per person per year by 2015. That is well below our current rate of 427 kilograms per person, and dramatically lower than the Canadian average of 772 kilograms per person.

Mr. Speaker, during our consultations we were told that the provisions in the Environment Act for contaminated sites had not been functioning as well as they should be. We now believe that contaminated sites can be best managed through better regulations and so we're proposing a broad enabling framework in the legislation that allows for more proponent-driven cleanup of contaminated sites and greater certainty which was one of the main problems on the issue of regulatory authority in regard to contaminated sites; consultation on this is already underway.

We've also heard Nova Scotians respond positively to our proposal of a new round table on environmental sustainability. I've already met, Mr. Speaker, with many of the stakeholders who will be asked to sit on that round table and I'm confident that round table will serve Nova Scotians, whatever government is in power, as it seeks to successfully address issues and initiatives that could potentially affect our economy and, more importantly, our environment.

Another significant improvement will be to remove the word - and I shouldn't have used the word significant, it's not a play on words - significant from the words, significant adverse effect. Adverse effect is defined in the bill and there will be no

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change to that definition, Mr. Speaker, but the word significant could be an additional hurdle in the prosecution of some cases. There is concern in removing the word, however, that minor offences would be prosecuted. To relieve that concern, we've added a de minimis clause to the polluter pay principle.

Mr. Speaker, stakeholders also said they don't want the department to change approvals without clear justification. Therefore, we're proposing a "for a greater certainty" clause that will ensure that proposals can be reopened only when there's a change in standard or where there is or may be an adverse effect on the environment. We received support for the proposed rejuvenator of the environmental trust fund and when I was at the Salt of the Earth Conference in the riding of the honourable member for Queens, at that meeting they spoke with great joy about the environmental trust fund being rejuvenated. This trust fund will permit external trustees to be involved in the management of the funds and will allow courts to direct certain monies from fines to be designated to the fund which could then go to groups that are involved in environmental projects and helping the environment of this province of ours.

Also, Mr. Speaker, we want to make sure that the public has easy access to information in the department and to decisions pertaining to property that is of interest to them. Therefore, we'll be moving aggressively in the coming months to make the environmental registry that already exists more accessible for Nova Scotians who want to know how their environment is being managed and protected. Finally, based on comments from stakeholders, we propose that the advisory committee review this Act every five years instead of every seven years as it currently is.

So as you can see, Mr. Speaker, we've done extensive consultations with both ENGOs, environmental non-government organizations and with businesses. The changes that are being proposed are changes that we believe, and I believe, all Nova Scotians will see as benefiting the environment. With those few words of introduction, I look forward to the comments from the members of the other Parties and will listen with interest to them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand today to speak to the proposed amendments to the Environment Act. To start with, it seems odd that we have an Environment Act. I think for many of us we have come to realize over the past years that environment, as slippery a term as it is, is perhaps more of a lens through which we regard many of our human activities and whether or not such and such a procedure or proposal is, in fact, environmentally sustainable, environmentally sensitive, is something which is a part intimately wound into almost every proposal that we have.

[Page 1942]

It makes you think of the old Joni Mitchell tune, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone.", and that perhaps is the only way that we sometimes find environment. That's why it makes it so very important that we should have somewhere defined the nature of the lens through which we regard so many of those activities. Perhaps that's what makes the Environment Act itself such a difficult Act in many ways to get a grasp on, because it is an Act which sets up a number of regimes and systems for looking at activities as much as actual content. Having said that, these amendments are in fact ones which adjust processes as much as they adjust substance. Nevertheless, it's important that these processes should be kept as finely tuned as possible, and I think that the broad consultation is an indicator of just how difficult it is to decide exactly how we should regard activities with a view to their environmental impacts.

The basic tenets of good government, transparency and accountability, are of course paramount, and in the environmental Act and the environmental amendments I hope that we are in fact going to be able to maintain transparency and accountability at all times. Two of the most significant changes which are proposed here are process changes, and they concern approvals, they also concern assessments. What this set of amendments proposes to do is to introduce a streamlining process for environmental assessments in developing a system, so- called Class Environmental Assessment - now we already have a Class 1 assessment and our Class 2 assessment, so I perhaps prefer to call this "bulk assessments" - and what this is intended to do, as I understand it, is to set up a regime by which, by regulation admittedly and by not coming to the House, certain types of activity can be screened as a group of activities.

[5:30 p.m.]

The example was given of power line installations - perhaps one might say that the installation of a power line is relatively similar in many ways although it will vary whether it is to cross farmland, urban areas, swamp, as the case may be, but there are certain basic features of power transmission lines which are shared.

One might look at these as the underlying elements by which a bulk environmental assessment can be justified. I do hope, however, that these class assessments, these bulk assessments, are not going to be taken as a blanket assessment approval which will allow something, as for example, a power line to be approved without further investigation. One should of course continue to look at the individual circumstances of the land in which that given activity is going to take place. However, this is a form of shorthand and to the degree that environmental assessments can be a lengthy, complex, and often confusing process for proponents and neighbours alike, it's probably a good idea to have some form of streamlining, some kind of understanding, and a registry of bulk approvals - I hope you don't mind me calling them bulk approvals - class approvals, which is available to the public.

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I hope as well that not too many types of activities are going to be included in this. This is one of the places where putting into regulations the system for designating which activities are subject to group approvals could be problematic. I would like it to be very clear and publicly known when a given type of activity is about to be approved for group or bulk assessments. So I think that would be my single caveat on this.

Another element of the process which is frequently problematic and which is going to need to be carefully regarded is that surrounding environmental approvals for different activities. One of the provisions here is that if somebody is doing something which is not in compliance with what ought to be an environmental approval, a temporary approval can be issued, and that temporary approval will cover the period of non-compliance. I would say that it is extraordinarily important, however, that a condition of any temporary approval has got to be a firm deadline for compliance so that we don't have open and infinite temporary approvals.

I would also suggest that non-compliance or failure to meet that deadline must not be something which is rewarded by simply initiating another temporary approval. We do have cases in which sequentially-running activities, not environmental approvals, can in fact be rewarded. Adverse possession of land would be one thing. So we don't want to make this a cumulative and infinite process.

Another portion of this, of course, is that concerning the round table. Again, the process of consultation is, of course, almost the essence of environmental assessment, environmental approval, environmental activity. To the degree that the community has become the environment, we do need to rely extraordinarily heavily on consultation, and the round table is another form of shorthand which, presumably, we would hope if it's well-composed, will give us some form of insight into what is, in fact, the general belief in the community, the larger community, the Nova Scotia community, although it may not give us all of the insight we need into the beliefs of the local community, and we need to, of course, keep an eye on that fact.

I would say that putting the administration of the Environmental Trust Fund into Cabinet hands is perhaps not something that I would be in a great hurry to embrace. I would hope that the guidelines for the administration of the Environmental Trust Fund, which can involve very, very large sums of money to the degree that the fines are imposed for environmental trespasses, that these fines should not become simply a pool of money which ends up in some form of, if not general revenue, then some unscrutinized form of assets and resources.

With that, I would like to say the round table is a good idea and we are happy to have it back on deck. It had been in abeyance for some years, but the administration of the Environmental Trust Fund should be as transparent and as accountable as possible, and that may, in fact, not be fully by engaging it in Cabinet hands.

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Having said all this, these are some of the processes that the amendments deal with and it could make it sound as though these are not important to the way life is conducted in Nova Scotia. All around us we see the impact of activities which have been conducted without regard primarily for the physical and biological environment surrounding. We still have significant issues concerning land, air and water in the province. Many of these are, in fact, historic issues.

There is no question that Nova Scotia has some of the environmental problems that it has quite simply because it's a long-settled area and because technology and mores have changed significantly since the province was first settled. Some of the first activities in this province were surface coal mines, which then went into larger mines and industrial level and exporting mines and, of course, these coal mines as well became the backbone of the electrical generation system in Nova Scotia. We probably wouldn't do that today, but the fact of the matter is that we are left with these. If you go into the basement of almost any house built before about 1950, you will probably find a layer of coal clinkers from the burning of coal in domestic use.

We don't countenance that anymore. Somehow, as a province, we need to have regard to the fact that, yes, technology has improved and our mores are changing. We need to think about jurisdictions which have been settled even longer than ours, have been using similar technology for as long or longer and in which the pressure of population has, in fact, forced those jurisdictions to recognize that these are not necessarily sustainable.

Often that recognition only comes once the damage is extreme. One thinks of the smog over London and the pollution in the Ruhr Valley to realize that we can see, we don't need to experience first-hand in Nova Scotia the impacts of some of the activities that we do conduct here. We can look, we can learn from other jurisdictions, and hopefully will look and learn before we have to experience first-hand the impacts of what has been experienced in other jurisdictions.

Coal is only one example of course. We have advanced fairly significantly, I think, in our view of the disposal of something which is mentioned in this bill, which is litter. Litter can be defined as my father would define a weed, perhaps. My father would say a weed is a flower that's anywhere you don't want it. I think maybe litter should be seen as something the same way. It's something that's anywhere you don't want it and it has been put there.

Litter can, in fact, comprise a huge number of things. It's not just pop cans, coffee cups, sandwich bags - it's not just old tires which aren't available for recycling, it's not just oil drums. It can, in fact, be any large amount of material, I would argue in any case, it could be any very large amount of material which has been moved and placed where it's not wanted from an environmental point of view, without inspection.

[Page 1945]

I have real concerns about, for instance, the mercury content of peat bog fill which is regularly and freely moved and finds its way, often, very, very close to - one hopes not, but can find itself actually in watercourses. Even that, which would appear to be quite benign, maybe benign in its place, but when large, large amounts are moved, it can be problematic.

That's another way in which our mores are changing because we do realize that major disruption is not only chemical but physical disruption can make a significant impact on our environment. What this says, it's necessary to observe. It's not always necessary to stop, but I do think that it's necessary to know what has been done. I would say it's a good idea for us to know when large quantities of material have been removed from one place that they have gone to somewhere else. If nothing else, this is a way of tracking the sources of materials.

Having said that, a lot of what the Environment Bill is concerned with is liability. It's not always with the biological, chemical and physical impacts, but it's also with liability. If a given activity turns out to have been detrimental, who is responsible? Again, because we are an old and long-settled province, this can be a very, very significant problem. We have all sorts of orphan and abandoned garbage dumps which range from nothing more than a couple of cars with their accompanying transmission fluid and oil to many, many hectares of land yielding thousands, literally thousands, of tons of material which may be contaminated.

We do need to be well aware of the fact that there are often contaminants that were placed a long, long time ago. We don't have recourse against the people who originally may have caused that damage.

We have places in this province which are the results of long and careless disposal. I think if people really wonder about that, you need only look at some of the places where population has been concentrated for so long that the soil is, if investigated, considered to be contaminated under literally every house and street. We have a problem there and sometimes maybe it's best just to leave things in situ. Maybe we need to be looking at, as I've discussed with the minister concerning dams, maybe we need to be looking not so much at perfect remediation as mitigation of damage, as of just plain keeping things still sometimes. If we can't keep them still, if we can't keep contaminated soil in its place, then at the very least we need to have a really good tracking system so that we know where it has gone and what is being impacted by it.

I sincerely hope that the regulations, which are going to be produced under the Environment Act, concerning contaminated sites are going to be really good tracking regulations that really give us an idea. It wouldn't matter if it wasn't that we know perfectly well that these materials, if we hadn't at least established or agreed that these materials are contaminants. Whether or not one agrees that they're contaminants, having said that they'll be called contaminants, we need to be sure that we follow through with

[Page 1946]

the procedure. It's not good enough to say, oh yeah, that's bad, and, oh, it's gone away. That simply doesn't work. We need to have really good tracking in place, and I think that's probably one of the biggest places that we have run into difficulties with the actual application of the Act.

I'm not kidding myself, this is potentially a labour-intensive activity; however, if one keeps good records in the first place, it's not going to be nearly so bad as having to go out and do the investigations, not nearly so bad, and there are ways, there really are. It's having good records, having regulations which stipulate that good records shall be kept actually does an awful lot to shortcut the needs of the investigation work, the remediation work, the court prosecutions. So I would strongly suggest that the regulations actually deal with a lot of the problems that are well understood as an issue.

[5:45 p.m.]

This has to do, of course, with - I could give you examples. I could give you large numbers of examples of places where there has been no tracking, and all we know is that there is contaminated material, the groundwater is not fit for consumption, and huge amounts of work have had to be done at enormous expense, because, in fact, these have been disposal sites. Harrietsfield, the Sydney tar ponds, almost any gas station built before about 1970 will give you a very fine example of just how much work has to be done if you don't do the work in the first place.

This is interesting in terms of waste diversion. I am very pleased to see that we are going to actually make an attempt to improve on the Canadian waste diversion average, because a lot of what ends up in landfill is also problematic for our air as well as our water and our land. Methane is one of the major products of landfill, which is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. To that degree, of course, we can be doing our bit towards fulfilling what are supposed to be our national requirements under the Kyoto Protocol.

Looking at the Kyoto Protocol specifically, although this bill does not get in detail to this, although this bill is largely one which sets up regulatory schemes, it's a bill which actually involves the administration of money, which involves the dispensation of money for projects, and I would hope that the Environmental Trust Fund is going to be dedicated to mitigating environmental damage in the broad sense. One of the things that we know is a huge contributor to our problem, and it's partly an effect of the old settlement patterns and of course the coastal settlement patterns, is that we've got a number of small and widely-spread communities. The centralization, which we're undergoing in this province, is to a large degree a function of a lack of public transit.

When you need to, even within what is designated as a city, as an urban area, when everybody who intends to migrate to the grocery store, to the doctor, to the book store, when everybody who plans to make that migration needs to get into a car and

[Page 1947]

spend a good 25 minutes driving, then you've got a spectacular amount of greenhouse gas emissions going on. We should be looking at the Environmental Trust Fund as a way of at least partially financing initiatives which go towards reducing the emission of green house gases. We do know that in this province transportation is one of the major sources of greenhouse gases so I hope that this bill will, in fact, work to foster improved efficiency in public transit.

This in its way also has significant health care benefits, if we are really consciously working towards the improvement of air quality, we are really consciously working towards the improvement of our health status as a province. We have terrible rates of chronic respiratory diseases and asthma and there is literally no hiding that any more. We also are suffering from an epidemic of diabetes and obesity and those things are largely and fairly regularly attributed to a sedentary lifestyle. I would argue that a lack of public transit also contributes to a sedentary lifestyle because very few Metro Transit buses will deliver anybody from their front door of their home directly to the front door of the grocery store, directly to the front door of their school or directly to the front door of their workplace.

Even a little bit of concession to the demands of the community and the communal transit system is, in fact, of benefit to the health status of the residents of this province. Again, this points out just how the Environment bill is also an oxymoron. How does one make a bill which will protect the environment? One can set up a process by which and through which one will establish the criteria by which one looks at human activity but we need to really make sure that this process is, as I said earlier, transparent, accountable and effective.

We should be ensuring that for example, gas stations - I was amazed a few years ago before the considerable effort was put into when a gas station was closed and within a couple of months the municipality had issued a new permit for a brand new gas station some 500 feet away before the site of the old one had been remediated. That seems to be an extraordinarily wasteful use of our common resource and what happened in the end of the day was the new gas station opened and the old one was eventually remediated and it remains abandoned. There's another one only a few hundred feet further down the road.

This is perhaps particularly a problem in my riding in which there are a number - it's an area that has been treated as somewhere to put the undesirable activities. The undesirable activities began by being the farms, the abattoirs, the less genteel activities of the city. Later on though as our consumption patterns changed they came to be quite simply the garbage land, the place where you dump old cars, the place where you empty transmission fluid, the place where you bury the half empty cans of paint and pesticide because that land was not of value. When you have enough of it and when you don't actually understand that the groundwater that flows through one piece of land ends up in the piece of land next door or downstream further along the same aquifer which can

[Page 1948]

be very small indeed but it's nevertheless significant. When you don't understand that connection then you are less likely to actually use the lens that says we should not leave abandoned one contaminated site and permit a similar activity to start up without remediation, without cleaning up the mess we left before.

I hope that through this bill, I sincerely hope and I think, that the amendments to this Act are being proposed in order to achieve this goal. I sincerely hope that a more flexible system of regulation does not mean a less transparent or less accountable regime through which we regard the activities that take place in this province, but a more flexible one and a regime which can genuinely respond to the need we have in this almost insular province to take proper measures to protect our air, our land, our water, and our health.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say thank you very much and I look forward to the next steps in this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is with pleasure that I stand to speak on this bill. As we go through some of the changes that have been proposed by the Department of Environment, some of them look to be simply housekeeping matters and some of them go much further than that.

There are just a few things in the proposed Act that I would like to talk about and some of the things that my colleague from the NDP has brought forward are very good points. One thing that sticks out really quickly when you look at the new changes in the Act is that the province says in part of it here that the province must maintain a goal of 50 per cent solid waste diversion and establish a target for waste disposal.

Now that sounds great on the surface, but that is basically almost where we are today. I would think that a little more aggressive approach on this would be suitable, rather than just staying with the status quo. This Act, if it is reviewed again, as it is supposed to be - according to the Act, within five years - within five years I would hope that we are well above the 50 per cent diversion rate. When you look at garbage disposal and waste cleanup, I can think of many issues and many things in the area I represent that have been sort of neglected over the years and have caused all kinds of problems. I can think of one area in my riding that somebody - well, I think the whole Halifax Regional Municipality has decided to dump their garbage there over time, and two years ago it cost, I think, $145,000 to clean up this one road, and when you drive down the road today, there is all the garbage again.

So they are soon going to be up to another $100,000 cleanup job on a road where there shouldn't be anything dumped on it. This isn't just residential waste, it is also commercial waste - you see building materials and everything else. It has become very

[Page 1949]

difficult for some people in the community to get rid of some of this waste with the cost of doing it - and the cost is justified, I am not saying that it isn't. If a small contractor can find a place in the woods to dump some construction debris and material instead of paying $45 or $60 or $80 a ton to get rid of it, that is a very serious concern. Some of these things may be fibreglass or other things that you definitely don't want dumped on the side of the road - not that you want anything dumped on the side of the road. So that is a serious concern.

I think that probably when this bill is passed - and hopefully it will be - and maybe some modifications made to it and some amendments made to it, perhaps there will be a requirement for anyone who hauls garbage and charges for it, that they have to show proof to the person - or on request to the Department of Environment or any other policing agencies - that indeed they did take it there and they do have a receipt where they paid the tipping fees, they can prove that they have done this. I think that would catch some of the people who do this, and with significant fines in place to stop these people just simply going into the woods and dumping it.

We had another case in the municipality, near the same area as the road, and there was a gentleman hired to clean up garbage from a particular apartment building. He was cleaning it up and charging the tipping fees that he was supposedly paying, and come to find out he was actually dumping it very close to a lake. There were tons and tons of this stuff that accumulated over a couple of years. So, fortunately, with the landowner - who was not at fault in this case, he didn't even know this was happening - and with the municipality and with some help from the province, this problem was resolved and the landowner has since put a gate up and stopped people from going in. It's unfortunate, because people used to go to this area before the dumping started and enjoy the lake, indeed, enjoy some swimming and fishing, and probably caught some lake trout. These are the sorts of things that really, really hurt our environment.

This one spot, we've had all kinds of five-gallon cans, at one time, of roofing tar that were dumped, hundreds of these things on the side of the road. So when the rain comes, definitely some of this stuff gets in the soil and causes problems long term. When you make it difficult for people to dispose of something, which has actually been the case now, it makes it easier for them to dump it in the woods. If you go along and find out that you can't get rid of something relatively easily, you have a problem.

I'll give you another example. Halifax Regional Municipality, which I've complained about this non-stop, has a hazardous household waste cleanup facility, one in the whole municipality, just one. So if you have half a gallon of sour gasoline or if you have a jug of paint thinner that you've used to clean your paint brushes in, you have to drive all the way to Bayers Lake Park, especially if you live in Ecum Secum or you live in some other area that's quite a distance from there, you're going to think twice before you take this thing to that location. Then the question is, what happened to it? Did they

[Page 1950]

burn it, did they dump it in the ground not realizing what kind of an effect it would have, or what would the case be?

I think we have to do a lot more to make it easier for people to get rid of these potentially dangerous chemicals. I know that at one time, when I was regional councillor, I convinced the municipality to do a mobile cleanup one day . . .

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

We have reached the moment of interruption.

The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings West:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government immediately address the commitment of twinning Highway No.101 and include the project among the Department of Transportation and Public Works' top priorities in the new year."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

TPW - HWY. NO. 101: TWINNING - PRIORITIZE

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I stood last night in my place here and I said that I would not stand again and speak on this issue of Highway No. 101. My plan was to put a recorder in here and send the 35-year-old message every time it needed to be sent, but I was told that I couldn't use a recorder in my place, that I had to do it myself. So, the lesson learned there is never say never, in some circumstances. There are other circumstances you can say never.

I attend a lot of funerals in my riding. I do it out of respect for the families, and I also do it because a good friend of mine, Joe Casey, gave me the advice to do that - be with the people through the good times and the bad. Mr. Speaker, I'm with the people of Digby all the time, good, bad, ugly, whatever it may be. I've gone to a lot of funerals down along that stretch of Highway No. 101 between Digby and Annapolis, and I've seen a lot of people 80 to 90 years old being buried in that area. When they were 50 years old, these people, they had hoped to see Highway No. 101 built between Digby and Annapolis. Here they are going to their graves, 85 years old, and never, never, never going to see Highway No. 101 built between Digby and Weymouth. So there's a good

[Page 1951]

circumstance where you can use never, and never is a good thing - no, not a good thing. It's not a good thing for them, because they're never going to see that Highway No. 101 built.

My hope is, Mr. Minister, Mr. Speaker, that I'm not standing here 35 years from today repeating this same message. That is my hope. That's another never that I hope doesn't come true. I wasn't going to speak too much more on Highway No. 101. In a bit I'm going to give my colleague, the member for Annapolis, a little time here. I just wanted to read something here today that I found today, a little more on this. This is from the Manager, Highway Planning and Design. This is two, three years old back in 2004. It's to one of my constituents.

"Thank you for your e-mail to the Honourable Ron Russell on April 19, 2004 regarding the upgrading of Highway 101 from Digby to Weymouth North . . . we recognize there are concerns with this section of highway. For that reason, we have completed a functional design, held a public consultation, and are currently conducting an environmental assessment on a new alignment. This will be followed by detailed design and land purchase in preparation for construction readiness.

The actual construction timing will depend on available funding from the Federal Government . . ."

This was in 2004. Well, here when we had our ferry problems in Digby, our federal minister of ACOA of this province said, you fellows don't need that ferry down there, you have the Highway No. 101. So that's our federal minister and the head of ACOA here, and he didn't even know the Highway No.101 wasn't completed yet in western Nova Scotia.

Last night we had a minister across the floor here, the Acting Minister for Transportation and Public Works. His only concern was Highway No.101 being twinned. Not once, I don't believe, he mentioned the Highway No.101 from Digby to Weymouth. Now here we are, for two or three years, this government across the floor has been saying the federal government won't help us build this highway because it's half their responsibility. They have a minister right now in Ottawa that doesn't know Highway No.101 is not finished. He may today, but he didn't three or four months ago. I'm just putting that on record that maybe the government across the floor here could let Mr. MacKay know that our Highway No.101 between Digby and Weymouth is not finished yet.

That's not the only problem. I just have to touch on one other thing. We have Exit 26 where Highway No.101 ends and goes into Digby. That's the cut-off, there's nothing below that but the cow path and the alders growing up around it. Here we have Exit 26 that's filled up and grown up with alders. Once you get above that, all the other exits are clear, there are no alders around them.

[Page 1952]

So, I go to the local department down there and say, can we cut the alders down around there? No, they won't give us any extra money to cut them. We're after the municipality to cut these alders down around Exit 26. There they are, still growing up and they're after the municipality to cut these federal alders down (Interruptions) Federal alders. I just want to say (Interruptions) no, I'm not going to go on any more, I have to give my colleague for Annapolis here a chance because he has problems too, just above me. Not so much alders, but he's got other problems.

I'm going to say it one more time that we are calling on this government to go after the federal government and get us a date. Get us a date. Especially for the fellows that are ready to go to the graveyard down there - been waiting for 35 years, I'm sure. If they heard today, they would go peacefully to heaven. With that, I'll take my seat and let my colleague there.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Just for the record, my honourable colleague meant that I had highway problems. When he mentioned that the member for Annapolis had problems, he meant I had highway problems. That's what he meant.

I'm pleased to rise and just speak for a few minutes on the issue of twinning Highway No.101. Last night the member for Kings North spoke that in 1999 he was inspired to run when he met with Dr. Hamm, and his number one priority would be twinning Highway No.101. This twinning project seems like the gift that keeps on giving because we're no closer to twinning - I shouldn't say we're no closer, but we have a long way to go to twinning the highway and that promise just keeps coming back and back.

I do want to say that I have been pleased they've been dealing with the issue of the Ben Jackson Road. That exit is one that has caused serious problems ever since it was built. For the life of me, I'm not sure why they would have ever engineered it the way they did, why they wouldn't have put an overpass at that intersection at the time, but I do want to recognize that today that is being corrected. The former Minister of Transportation - Ron Russell, I believe - was instrumental in part of that.

One of the issues that affects my constituency and the constituency of Kings West is that there is no passing lanes from Coldbrook all the way to the community of Bridgetown. Here we are now going to twin that highway to Coldbrook, we're going to bring in about 16, 000 - 20,000 cars a day into the Coldbrook area into a funnel and send them down two lanes through the Annapolis Valley. It would be prudent on the part of the provincial government and the federal government if they began to expand this in unison; began to put in a passing lane, an extra lane down through certain sections of that highway. Mr. Speaker, it's completely flat. The bed and the highway is there by and way you can shift it - one minute left, Mr. Speaker - you can shift that to allow a passing lane to come through.

[Page 1953]

I noticed when the member for Kings North spoke last night he talked about the highway between Coldbrook and Berwick but it's one that's been ignored. It's like the highway really from Coldbrook to Bridgetown is one that's been ignored, one that we need to begin to pay some attention to. Mr. Speaker, we're all in support of twinning the highway as we come down through the Annapolis Valley but I think it's important when we do that we recognize the funnel affect that's going to happen at the Coldbrook area and begin to put some passing lanes in gradually so when that highway is completed the traffic that's coming into the Valley will have an opportunity to continue at a safe and moderate speed throughout the Annapolis Valley.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that this gift stops giving and eventually that we can say that we've accomplished the twinning of Highway No. 101.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I just have three quick points and I'll yield the remainder of my time to the member for Hants West. I tried to speak to this issue yesterday, however time ran out. On a couple of occasions, I tried to get to my feet but wasn't able to speak so I'll be very brief, just three quick things. The member for Digby-Annapolis reminded me that we're taught as young people to respect our alders, not to disrespect our alders. (Laughter) I thought I'd bring that to the member's attention.

I've said before, I don't know if I've said it in this House, in Nova Scotia there are only two ways to become a highway engineer - one is that you go to university, you study hard, you spend your hard-earned money to get a degree and you get that metal ring that you wear on your pinky and you become a highway engineer. The second one is you run for elected office, you knock on doors and you get successfully elected, and suddenly there are 52 highway engineers that sit in this House and know everything there is to know about the development of roads here in Nova Scotia.

My most important point, however, is to talk about the history of Highway No. 101. Our colleagues, the friends in the third party, give us a history lesson over and over again about the history of Highway No. 101 but their history only starts in 1999. I'm here to tell you that the history of Highway No. 101 is much longer than 1999; in fact I'll just bring it back to the year 1991. In 1991, the government of John Buchanan I believe, or it might have been Donald Cameron - I'm not sure which - did an analysis on the twinning of Highway No. 101 to the Beaver Bank Road to the Mount Uniacke turnoff. What they discovered was that particular section of road met or exceeded the criteria for twinning because of traffic count and engineering studies they determined that the appropriate next step was to twin that road.

They went to work twinning that section of that road, they spent millions of dollars, they bulldozed mountains of rocks, they leveled them off, they built the abutments to overpasses, they brought the earth up to grade and they added gravel and

[Page 1954]

they added more gravel and then they added a final coat of gravel and then in 1993, an event happened. It was an election, along came a new government. They come along, they set their own priorities and their priority did not include that section of highway. It sat and it sat and it sat.

In 1993 when the Liberals took power, I became the Councillor for the District of Sackville in the County of Halifax. During that time, as the Liberal MLA for that area sat and watched, I worked to try to convince the government of the day to finish the work that was started. There were deaths on that highway. Nine people died on that highway from Beaver Bank to Mount Uniacke in the two short years that highway sat and finally, after the deaths of those people and the convincing of the people around, including firefighters and others, the government decided to move forward and do what was necessary to finish that road. It turns out it cost several million dollars more because they had to redo a lot of the work that they had done.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of my speech here today is to tell you that politics has no place in developing policy around where you build roads. It has to be done based on criteria. In fact, what we had was a road that was built based on criteria and held based on politics, and then finished based on criteria, and what happened in the meantime nine people passed away - nine solid, hardworking citizens died.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't think that's the way it should happen. I've travelled the roads. I've traveled Highway No. 101 from one end to the other and Highway No. 104, Highway No. 103 and Highway No. 105, and I can tell you there are lots of work to be done. I don't know if the section of road the honourable member speaks about is first on the priority list or eighth, but I do know there are a lot of roads that need to be done. I rely heavily on the advice, and our government relies heavily on the advice that we get from our staff, our good staff, people who are professionals and provide us with the advice that this is the most appropriate road to do next and this is the one you do after that. It shouldn't be decided here on the floor of this Legislature - absolutely wrong. It should be decided with good professional advice and I'll continue to support a government that does that. Now, I'll yield the rest of my time to the member for Hants West.

[6:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I just want to pick up where my honourable colleague left off. The twinning of this highway is one of the province's top priorities, there's no question about that, and it has been for Transportation and Public Works a priority for many years now since we came back into government and picked it up where it needed to be, and it will continue to be a priority for many more years to come.

[Page 1955]

Having been a paramedic for many years, I can tell you right now that I've spent more than my share of time on that highway, I know a lot have in all sections. It's important that this government continue to twin the highway. We've done a number of projects and I'm just going to speak to a few of them right now. With the October 2005 signing of the federal-provincial highway agreement, the province began moving forward to twin Highway No. 101 from Falmouth to Avonport. From there, from Falmouth to Avonport, then on to St. Croix, Three Mile Plains - Transportation and Public Works has made substantial progress to date and much more work will be called soon.

The contract schedule for 2006-07 construction season has been tendered in the Falmouth-Avonport area and the work is now underway and I'm sure my honourable colleague sees that on a regular basis during travel. These include the Avonport interchange - some modifications, a big job there, tendered in 2005. That work has been completed on the province's first modern roundabout. A project is underway on West Brooklyn Road. The underpass retaining wall was tendered this year and the work is continuing. The project cost $4.4 million and is scheduled for completion at the end of March 2007.

Work has begun on the Ben Jackson interchange structure. The total construction cost is approximately $7 million. The Hantsport interchange, that structure at Halfway River, the foundation and investigation is underway. The design will be completed over the winter and the tenders are scheduled for the Spring of 2007. Again, more money going into Highway No. 101 and that's going on down through the Valley, not just on this end but continuing on down through.

The Bishopville Road tunnel, the design will take place this winter. The tender will be let in the Spring of 2007. Grading from the Hants-Kings County line towards Falmouth, including the Hantsport interchange ramps, the field staff will be working on completing the estimates over the winter with the tender to be let in the Spring. Bog Road underpass, design will take place over the winter and the structure could be tendered next year in 2007. The St. Croix to Three Mile Plains area - all the contracts have been scheduled there for construction in the 2006-07 season. They've been tendered and the work is underway. These include the St. Croix River bridge completed in 2005. The St. Croix interchange structure is under construction and it's expected to be completed by late December or early January. Wentworth Road, east structure, the Newport Station area overpass - it's under construction now and expected to be completed by December or January. It goes on. Contracts scheduled for the 2007-08 St. Croix to Three Mile Plains, the tender and the project will be let next summer.

Some of the next steps, of course, Transportation and Public Works is already hard at work on the next cost-shared agreements and will give Nova Scotians even more twinned highways in the Annapolis Valley and across the province. I will remind the members opposite of the provincial-federal agreement and the member, at the time, from

[Page 1956]

Kings Hants who was the federal Minister for Transportation and Public Works and a bit of a renege on the agreement on the funding, also slowing down the project, that needs to be put out there as well, the members need to be reminded of that. It will mean safer and more efficient highways which we all agree are a top priority to so many Nova Scotians in this province.

In my opinion, as a paramedic, someone who have traveled those roads for 17 years, more than once, unfortunately, I have been on that occasion where people have been killed on those highways. Highways don't kill people, and I will leave it at that, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you very much for the opportunity to speak on this this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Well thank you, Mr. Speaker, I feel something like an encore presentation here or deja vu because it was just yesterday that we talked about this particular issue but it is certainly a very serious issue, involving death and injuries on our 100-Series Highways, in this case Highway No. 101, although there continue to be problems on Highway No. 104, where I come from, and certainly Highway No. 102 and Highway No. 105 in Cape Breton and so on. So there are problems with a lot of our 100-Series Highways.

It is a real issue, it is a real concern and it has been going on for many years, even for decades there has been concern about getting our 100-Series Highways built in this province and secondly, getting twinning after the original, single-lane, 100-Series Highway is there. I can remember I guess on Highway No. 101, a group I think it was called Twin to Win, who had been pushing or lobbying hard to get the road twinned all the way down through the Valley to Yarmouth. I am not sure if that group is still active or going but it represented the community, it represented the feelings of people who want to see a twinned highway all the way through the Valley and all the way to Yarmouth.

Of course the problem is that there is not even a single lane of 100-Series Highway all the way through Annapolis and Digby Counties. I think there are something like 30 kilometres in the middle there, approximately 30 kilometres that are not built to 100-Series Highway level at this point. That is a real concern because you have a lot of homes, a lot of businesses, a lot of traffic going in and out of the various entrances and exits on that road. So I am going to probably say a few things that I previously said yesterday so for those who are not here, or they can tune in to Hansard, will get either the new version or the old version but some of it applies regardless.

Our 100-Series Highway stretches across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia and it is something like 38,000 kilometres in total and about 3 per cent of that is in Nova Scotia, somewhere just shy of 1200 kilometres and one-quarter or more of that is on Highway No. 101 - 308 kilometres, I believe, is the stretch of distance that is

[Page 1957]

100-Series Highway. But, as I mentioned, it is not all even up to 100-Series standard at this point. It is slightly shorter to go to Yarmouth from Halifax, Highway No. 103 and it is 296 kilometres.

Mr. Speaker, it really comes down to dollars and cents. Why hasn't the 100-Series Highway been built previous to this? For more than 50 years, we had a Trans-Canada Highway system across this country but yet we have major areas that are not serviced by a 100-Series Highway right here in Nova Scotia. Previous speakers have mentioned that it is this government that didn't put enough money into it or that government that stalled it or whatever, but obviously not enough money is going into building our 100-Series Highway and we need a lot more.

Five years ago, our own Department of Transportation and Public Works here in Nova Scotia commissioned a study to determine how much money it would take to build up all our roads and bridges in this province to standard. It was determined at that time it was approximately $3.5 billion to bring all our roads and bridges to standard. That has been updated in 2006 by the present minister to over $4 billion, and if you put that over 10 years, that's $400 million on a yearly basis.

What is the budget for the Department of Transportation and Public Works? Is it coming close to that? Unfortunately it's not, we're falling far short here in this province of the amount of money the department has determined is needed to put towards our roads and bridges in this province. In fact, counting Public Works, the budget in Transportation was only approximately $307 million. So it falls far short of the at least $400 million that's needed. In fact, the average over the last seven years, since 1999, has been approximately $231 million. So we're a long ways from meeting our commitments on all our roads and bridges, including the 100-Series Highways in this province.

Last year, how much was spent on 100-Series Highways in this province? It was only $14 million, and that's a long way short of what was identified in the 10-year need study as the amount that was needed to look after the 100-Series Highways in this province, including Highway No. 101, Highway No. 104, and so on. That's less than half of the amount that was identified over a 10-year period that was required to look after our 100-Series Highways. Again, Mr. Speaker, we're falling far short, by this government.

Secondly, we're falling short at the federal level. Excise gasoline taxes collected here in Nova Scotia last year were approximately $145 million, and less than 5 per cent of that came back to look after our roads and bridges in this province. Most of that would go to the 100-Series Highways, but it was only about 3.9 per cent, to be exact, that was returned from the federal government in the gasoline tax. We need a much more aggressive government here in Nova Scotia. We need a much better lobbying effort to

[Page 1958]

get the dollars that the federal gas tax is collecting and to bring it back to Nova Scotia to put it on our highway system. Fairness for Nova Scotians, I would call it, Mr. Speaker.

Our sister province of New Brunswick has had a much better result in going after the federal government to get their fair share of dollars for 100-Series Highways. In fact, in that province since 1993, they've had six federal contribution programs - the SHIP program, The CSIF program is another one, the Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Fund, and they've had six such agreements, whereas here in Nova Scotia we've fallen far short of that. The Province of New Brunswick got $740 million since 1993 for their highways in that province, but here in Nova Scotia over the last 10 years we only got $187 million. In fact since 1987, that's 19 years, we've only gotten about $275 million. What's New Brunswick doing right that Nova Scotia is not? It raises that question. Why are they getting so much more federal dollars for their highways when Nova Scotia is not successful?

It was mentioned by my colleague that there is an agreement, signed last year by the Province of Nova Scotia with the federal government, the first I've seen in a long time, and it was under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. I have a copy of it here, Mr. Speaker, that outlines the benefits and the budgeting project costs and different parts of the agreement, who's responsible for what. That total project was $61 million, and it was to be split 50/50 by the federal and the provincial governments. In other words, it would be $30.5 million each. That seems fair, each level of government would pay half of it. However, by the time it got signed and delayed and brought before the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for his signature, both federally and provincially, the total cost of the project had gone up considerably, and yet the federal government said no, we're only going to pay the $30.5 million that we had agreed to. So that means the Province of Nova Scotia is paying more than 50 per cent of the project, and in reality it might be upwards of 60 per cent of the total cost.

We're poor negotiators when it comes to working with the federal government to get our fair share of infrastructure money for this province. We're ending up on the short end of the stick, so I think we need a much stronger negotiating team to go to Ottawa to get our fair share of dollars for our highways in this province.

We in the Opposition are not the only people that are saying that we're not getting our fair share, that more needs to be done. I'll mention the Canadian Automobile Association, they recently came out and said that we need a national highway policy in this country and in this province, and we need some sustained funding on a regular basis that would go towards our highways right across this country. Secondly, the Chamber of Commerce in Nova Scotia last year had a symposium on roads and bridges in this province and they're saying that our economy is suffering. Because of our poor roads, it hurts our economic development, it hurts our tourism, it hurts our population growth in various areas and they too are pressing on the provincial government to do more, to build roads and bridges in this province, to go to Ottawa to lobby harder for funding and

[Page 1959]

certainly there's much more that can be done. Finally, the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association is indicating that our roads and bridges are much older than the national average, and we must work harder to keep our road engineers and our road workers here in this province and keep them employed in building the infrastructure in this province.

In closing I'll say that there's much more this province can do. We have to go after our federal cousins for our fair share and we really need a plan to build our 100-Series Highways, to build our secondary roads and no time like the present to get at it. So with those few comments, I'll close debate.

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired for debate. I'd like to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late debate.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 113 was adjourned by the honourable member for Preston.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise on this bill again. I was talking about the difficulties that people in the regional municipality have with household hazardous waste when I sat down. The municipality presently has a system that requires you to go to Bayer's Lake and dump off or leave off the material on selected Saturdays. This means it's not convenient and through it, the point I'm trying to make is convenience. You've got to make it easy for people to dispose of things that are a problem. If someone has to drive three hours or two and a half hours to ensure that they get a safe disposal of a product, most people will do that, some won't. The people that won't do it are a real cause of serious problems; it's very easy to just open a container and dump it in the ground and not worry about it any more.

That's why I think it's important that the Department of Environment and Labour, under their legislation, push to ensure that the municipalities are providing an easy and safe process for eliminating some of the household hazardous wastes as well as industrial wastes. I know the municipalities worked very hard at this and they have very serious restrictions on what they can and can't do with these items, and they work within the confines of what they have to work with. I'd like to see this change, I'd like to see the Department of Environment take an active role in that regard and also I'd like to see them take a more active role and really work with the municipalities, probably through the Resource Recovery Fund Board, to see if they can get some of the construction debris used again rather than buried - still a lot of that material is being buried. Some material has to be disposed of in some way but I'm sure if someone with

[Page 1960]

some real innovative ideas comes forward then they could eliminate the burial of this material and ultimately put it back in the system so people could use it and enable the people to hopefully make a profitable business out of recycling and reusing this equipment and old materials.

As you look through the bill, the bill has got a lot of improvements in it, there are some things in it, I believe, that should be considered. The minister, in the bill, talks about the establishment of advisory committees that can retain experts. I think that's a really good idea, but it doesn't really talk about who the committees are going to be, what the advisory committees are going to be on.

It depends, of course, on the situation and what situation arises. For instance, are they going to look at the installation of a strip mine or something like that, which again has been an ongoing topic here in Nova Scotia? Who would the advisory committee be? Would it be citizens from the area? Would it be department staff? Would it be the industry representatives, or a combination of all those things? That will be very interesting to hear the minister's comments on that, to see what he has in mind and what the department had in mind when you look at that.

As you go through the process and see the different things that the bill is proposing, there are some good things. For instance, the bill is looking to enable new penalties for littering. I think that's an excellent idea, I already talked about the fact that we had almost $140,000 cleanup on one road in my riding about two years ago and the road now is getting littered again. There are really no disincentives for anybody not to do that. Hopefully the penalties for littering are going to be severe, make a few examples of the few people - I stress, the few people - that are littering. I think it's a few people today and not the majority of Nova Scotians that litter; that will help eliminate that problem as time goes on and work towards eliminating that.

If you have litter all over the community, when people come from areas outside Nova Scotia, they look at it and it leaves a real black eye on our communities. We're trying to promote tourism and make it a safer, cleaner place to live and it just doesn't make sense to litter. A lot of people, they go so far - you can tell how far it is from a Tim Hortons or a fast food restaurant. You can see the bags thrown on the side of the road within a short distance, it takes that long to drink a coffee or to eat some fast food. In that area, if you're unfortunate enough to live in that area, have to travel through that area and see this junk on the road - it's so much easier just to leave it in your vehicle and put it in the garbage and dispose of it properly.

The other thing is, I know the municipalities have been working hard to get their diversion rates up and at the same time keep the cost to the residents down. If we could eliminate landfills, it would be a fantastic thing if that could happen. I don't see anything in the bill here that's really moving towards that. There are improvements in that area, but nothing that's going to eliminate landfills. I think a landfill cell in the Halifax

[Page 1961]

Regional Municipality is somewhere between $16 million and $20 million to put in place. Then they fill them up quickly so it doesn't take very much math to figure out what's contributing so seriously to the problem with landfills.

On the other hand, they make it very, very difficult to put your garbage out. If you put paper out in a plastic bag, a Sobeys bag, a Superstore bag or another plastic bag that you're going to put in for recycling anyway, you put your paper in that and if it rains, they won't take it. Then what do you do with it? Then you put it in your green compost bucket, if you're fortunate enough it's not full that week, and that goes and gets composted.

I think there has to be a better way to handle that and I think the province should be the leader on that and help municipalities with some technology that would ensure that when you put that paper out, which is pretty simple, maybe you can use a clear garbage bag to put the paper in so it can go in for recycling and reuse.

It's many things like that I think the Department of Environment and Labour has to look at. I think Nova Scotians are starting to demand that and should be demanding it because today we really have to make sure we get recycling and eliminate the amount of garbage.

I also see that they set a standard for the amount of garbage that can be generated by an individual, a target for that. It's nice to set a target, but I think the target should be a step target. You should try to reduce the amount of garbage on an ongoing basis, not just set a target and then we're at the target, that's what they've done with the waste diversion of 50 per cent. They should say over the next five years it should go down 1 or 2 per cent a year so you get more and more diversion from the garbage.

I can't see that happening so we need some innovative approaches and we need some things to really make sure our environment is protected, number one; that we reuse garbage as much as we can and eliminate the dumps and all the other issues. We see some things - renewable energy and there's not an emphasis in this province in renewable energy. Again if we get renewable energy, stuff that's environmentally safe like windmills, solar panels and those types of items, it takes away the greenhouse gases and all the dangerous chemicals and everything that is so negative in our society today causing cancers, lung diseases and all kinds of diseases. If we can take those things away, over a long period of time, we're going to reduce our requirement for health care costs and health care and suffering that the families had and at the same time make our province a better place to live.

As we go through this bill and we review the things that the province is planning to do with the bill, I say there are some very good things in the bill. Other things I think need to be questioned and maybe some amendments put in place. I'm looking forward to the debate as we go through the process and looking forward to the submissions we're

[Page 1962]

going to get at the committees as we go forward and with that, I would thank the Speaker for the opportunity to speak on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to rise on a point of order to see if the honourable member would allow the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees rather than make that at a later date, if the member and House would agree to that.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there agreement?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 5 - Degree Granting Act.

Bill No. 67 - Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act.

Bill No. 89 - Provincial Court Act.

Bill No. 91 - Trade Union Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[Page 1963]

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to stand here this evening and speak on Bill No. 113, which deals with amendments to the Environment Act. In fact, when I was the Environment Critic I remember going through the Environment Act and sending in the recommendations for changes and amendments to that Act at that time. I guess all things come to those who wait or something like that. I would say it's long time overdue. I am glad to see that the government in this bill is saying that instead of reviewing the bill I believe every seven years they will review it every five years. I would hope that if they do in the meantime see something that's blatantly wrong and needs to be changed that, indeed, they have a process in which to do that.

It's a very important topic that I'm not sure in this province if all the departments of the government take the environment into account when they are looking at changes to their legislation for those departments or not. It certainly impacts on almost everything we do in life, the environment around us, although often times we don't think of it that way. We think more of the environment as being something that you go camping or as a tourist somewhere to go and do something and you go and take part in the environment that way. Everything we do, a lot of things we do in government and society impact on the environment and we know that Nova Scotia does not have a good record as far as protecting the environment goes right now. We know that we have Nova Scotia Power that is a heavy polluter, we know that we've got the Sydney tar ponds. Hopefully Bill No. 113 will look at some of the things that have gone on before and make those proposed changes that are going to lead us down a different kind of a road in the future. I'm hopeful that's the route that we're on here with this bill.

I am hoping the bill will lead to more community consultation, because there indeed has been a lack of that, from my point of view anyway.

We need to use these amendments and the Act to bring forward legislation that deals with some of the issues, say, around coastal management. There was a coastal plan of sorts, the coastal coalition had gotten together and did that but I don't think there has been any movement on it. You know we have had clear-cutting in Nova Scotia and our wilderness areas have suffered and we haven't really looked at dealing with the corridors for our wilderness areas and issues like that, Mr. Speaker.

Bill No. 113, certainly if you were listening to the minister speak on this, they have consulted with various people and organizations that are interested in the environment as we are and we are hoping that they are, as he said, there are significant improvements here in this bill. Again, it has been a while coming and some of the proposed amendments are leaning on, you know I have questions about them and some are leaning, well they are good things, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1964]

One of the things that the bill does discuss is waste diversion. We know that Nova Scotia has taken a lead role in waste diversion. Unfortunately, we seem to be at a standstill right now and I am a little bit concerned that in the bill it says, I believe, that we are going to try and maintain the 50 per cent waste diversion. I don't think that is really good enough. I think we may be going down a road of sort of, we are at 50 per cent, we are teetering around there, let's just try and maintain that. I think we need to really go a bit higher on that.

We know we have a great recycling program, people come from all over the world to see what we're doing here but there is always room for improvement. I tabled a bill - I don't know when it was, last year or the year before - on electronic waste but nothing has come out of this Assembly on how we're going to deal with electronic waste. In the meantime, we continue to dump literally pounds and pounds of electronic waste into our landfills and we don't really have a process lined up for that right now, so I am hoping that in the very near future, the government will move on that.

[6:45 p.m.]

I have seen in this bill that we're talking about organizations that put on public and private events will have to provide receptacles for composting. Well, let's look at Province House right here. We don't compost here, we don't have a compost bin in the lunch room. That's silly - why don't we have one? Buildings, office buildings, they don't compost, a lot of them don't even recycle our papers. So I think we have to start really enforcing some of the recycling ideas that we have had.

In this bill, we talk about new penalties for littering but it doesn't really say exactly what those penalties are. We really haven't been diligent in giving people fines, or businesses, I don't believe, Mr. Speaker, certainly not while I was the Environment Critic, I don't believe.

So Bill No. 113 is long overdue. One of the things I do find interesting in the bill, Mr. Speaker, is that the government is looking at doing more community consultation and they talk about a round table of sorts to look at environmental sustainability. So some of the things that I have spoken to earlier on certainly need to be looked at by the wider communities within the province. There are things that have happened, I am sure each of us can stand here and talk about our own constituencies and how different things have impacted on the environment in those constituencies. Bill No. 113 gives me a chance to look back on some of the things that have been done in and around my constituency. One of the things that impacted the environment in Dartmouth East, specifically to Shubie Park, was the development at Dartmouth Crossing.

Now we are seeing, Mr. Speaker, if you have been over to Dartmouth lately and through the Parclo there, you'll see that the whole side of the hill is gone and there are buildings there. So we're going to have mega shopping there. But when that first . .

[Page 1965]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very difficult for the Chair to hear the speaker. Thank you.

MS. MASSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives us a chance to look back at the way we have done things and that the government is willing to improve those. Part of the problem there with Dartmouth Crossing was not that we had anything against somebody coming in and developing, but part of the process was not a lot of community consultation. I think there were two meetings. That just isn't really enough. People are really busy, and the meetings weren't far enough in advance of when the actual construction was going - it was going to go forward, we couldn't stop Dartmouth Crossing, even if we wanted to.

What we were concerned about was how would that affect the parkland there. How would it encroach? At the time we were given two options. With Bill No. 113, I'm hoping that through a round table, and I'm not sure how many round tables that's going to be, if there are going to be numerous round tables in different communities, in rural and urban areas, but that they're going to bring the community in, so that if there's a big development like that there would be more consultation, so that the people who live in the constituencies who know best what impact it's going to have will have a chance to have input.

In the end, indeed through us pressuring the government, we did arrive at a third possibility, and that was the one that the community went with in the end. Even though there did end up being some encroachment and what have you, through consultation with government, letters and what have you and through the press, we did do that, but I'm hoping that Bill No. 113 will see that that will happen up front, so we don't have to go through all this and get people upset and get petitions out and all these sorts of things.

Even though you might ask for full environmental assessments, sometimes you don't get that. I think this bill does look at the environmental assessment process, and it talks about streamlining, in fact, the environmental assessments. I'm not sure - streamlining, I know that was a word used when I was Environment Critic, and it always makes me a bit leery when I see streamlined. Does that mean we're going to speed things up, does that mean we're going to make - the environment is one place where you do need, I believe, some red tape. You really need to look at things closely, because it's going to have an impact. Things you do now are going to have an impact 10, 20, 30, 40 years down the road.

We know that we already have Class 1 and Class 2 environmental assessments, but if we're looking at this other type of assessment - I'm not really sure what that is, what that's all about, Mr. Speaker. Also, the bill is leaning toward some sort of temporary approvals that can be extended, and extended again. I'm not sure if that's a good thing with Bill No. 113. The bill does have some good things in it, the round table, community consultation, and some form of more accessibility for information around

[Page 1966]

issues that involve the environment, so that is a good part of it. I believe that there will be an advisory committee that will be looking at the Act every five years, so I think that is something we can look forward to.

I would like to say, also, that there have been a lot of issues in and around Dartmouth East involving our lakes and our streams. I think one of our other members will speak in more detail about that later, but I can't stand here and not talk about that issue and how, in fact, when Dartmouth Crossing did come in and they did, of course, take away a lot of the ground cover, even though they were going to rebuild a brook that was there before, and they've done a great job at that, what happened was because we had a lot of heavy rains that we didn't expect at a certain time of the year, we had a lot of siltation run off into the lakes and indeed into the canal system.

I think we have to be very aware of construction that goes on in the province that even though it's not on a lake, it's so close to a lake, and how the runoff is going to impact our lakes and streams and waterways. We know right now that all of our storm sewers run off, most of them go into our lakes and our streams. I don't know how we're going to deal with that. I think we have to look at the siltation issues around that issue and how we deal with our storm drains and the runoff of pesticides and these sorts of things, Mr. Speaker.

I think it's a 20-metre setback that HRM has now, and whether that's enough or not, I don't know. You can drive around any lake and find people putting their sheds right up on the very edge of the lake, not realizing that it's impacting on the habitat of ducks, loons, and these sorts of things. So if we want to enjoy the environment and we want to enjoy our lakes, our streams and our canals, we have to be very aware that what we do, even though it may not be directly in the path of it, can really impact on it.

So I think Bill No.113 gives us a chance to look at some of the things that maybe we've done wrong, and it allows us to move forward in a positive way. I'm really hoping that through Bill No. 113 we will have much better community consultation, because I think that's where it all begins, Mr. Speaker. With that, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to rise in support of this bill - there must be something in the water in the House today because I find myself commending the government on two occasions. (Applause) Don't get too excited on the other side, please.

I have to give a second bouquet, and in this case to the Minister of Environment and Labour. I think some other members opposite could, in fact, take a lesson from this minister, because this minister has, in fact, with this bill consulted with a considerable number of people; he has also been willing to sit down with Opposition members and

[Page 1967]

discuss the issue - I had occasion to spend a considerable amount of time with that minister and during that period of time he and his staff explained fully the ramifications of this particular bill.

I wish other ministers could learn from this example to be somewhat more flexible, to look at possible amendments, and in this case I understand that a couple of the amendments are coming forward. So to members on the opposite side, please take a look at this minister who is sometimes underrated, I think, on that side of the House (Interruptions) He should be taken very, very seriously in relationship to this and other issues.

Now, having said that, Mr. Speaker, I have also had a number of conversations with Philip Cameron, who is the chairman of Wastewater Nova Scotia and also chairman of the minister's advisory board. Philip Cameron lives in Truro, but I've known him for about 40 years and he is formerly from the Ponds in Pictou East - Ponds is an area on the Merigomish-Lismore Shore which, incidentally, is one of the best environments in the Province of Nova Scotia. Now, what I like about this bill is that there are safeguards, but there is, in fact, less red tape; the process is speeded up, but speeded up with protections in there; we don't have to look at 90 days to get an approval for some kind of a septic system if, in fact, it can be done in three or four days; we are allowing for good systems to be placed on smaller lots - there are a number of issues that are positive in this bill.

Now, having said that, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk very briefly about three matters that I have raised with this minister, and have had some action on. One is in relationship to Boat Harbour, which is the disposal area for Neenah Paper, was the disposal area for Kimberly-Clark before that, and before that Scott Paper, the Boat Harbour situation, now a problem, ownership by the province.

There are a number of people in the Pictou Landing area who are very concerned about the well water in relationship to proximity to Boat Harbour. I put this to the minister opposite, and I'm very pleased to say that his department people are back to me and that there will be some wells tested in that area. So that is a positive in Pictou East. I hear someone saying that he is a model, and I think he is maybe a bright light in the darkness.

[7:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the action his department is taking on Boat Harbour. In relationship to Trenton fly ash, Nova Scotia Power Inc., Hillside, which is adjacent to the Trenton plant, is in the constituency of Pictou East. I am asking this minister to continue to monitor and assess the levels of particulate matter that periodically come out of the stacks of generating stack five. So, please, Mr. Minister, continue to monitor that.

[Page 1968]

My third issue is one that I've also raised with this minister and it involves a dam that was placed on the East River close to Stellarton, Stellarton on one side of the river, and Plymouth on the other side of the East River. What we are finding in that river is that the flow keeps decreasing year after year after year. Now something fundamental is happening to that river system. I want this minister to take note that we can no longer accept mechanical monitors that are on the Middle River being used for extrapolation for flows on the East River. I ask this minister to follow up with putting some monitors on that river. I have put that to him before, he is the minister who listens, and I hope he listens to me on this issue. So, Mr. Minister, you have not heard the last from me on these environmental issues, I'm going to be pounding on your door until we get further action in relationship to all of the matters that are before us in Pictou East.

The situation in the East River valley is of a great concern. This is one of the most beautiful areas of the province. I recently biked up the entire length of the river, went all the way to Sunnybrae and back down the other side. This is a gem, it's a hidden treasure, so many tourists and even local people don't realize the beauty along that river. To see that river ceasing to flow like it used to flow causes a lot of people on the river grave concern. So please do something about monitoring the East River.

Just a few minutes ago the minister heard from the member for Preston about littering. Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about something that is much worse than littering, it is the dumping that is taking place in some areas of this province. Included in my outdoor activities are coastal and inland hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. On those three separate outdoor activities, I have found, on a number of occasions, areas where chesterfields, building materials, old TVs, mattresses and all kinds of other matters are disposed of at roadside, even at riverside in a few areas, close to brooks, beautiful areas, not just in northern Nova Scotia, in Cape Breton where I've spent a lot of time in coastal hiking and so on. We have to come up with appropriate enforcement and appropriate fines. We have to work closely with the municipalities on these issues.

There are situations where there is so much garbage disposed of that there are clues on where the garbage has come from, where the dumping has occurred, who has actually done it. Sometimes in among even big items of debris, you can find something, a catalogue or something with a name on it, an address and so on, and I think there has to be real enforcement in this area. The situation with indiscriminate dumping along roadsides and brooks and rivers and so on has to cease in such a beautiful province with so many wonderful attributes.

Mr. Speaker, I support this Bill No. 113. It is a bill that is going to do considerable good for the Province of Nova Scotia. Again, I appreciate the fact that so many people were consulted, that the minister has listened not only to me but to others on the Opposition side in relationship to some of the issues put forward, and I want to again congratulate him, and people like Philip Cameron and all of the others who had input on this important piece of legislation.

[Page 1969]

However, in closing, this, again, has been a long time coming, because I understand that some of these changes were needed for 10 years. This government, Mr. Speaker, had opportunities to address these matters before. However, it took this particular minister to do it. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, support Bill No. 113 in principle, but I do have some concerns. I want to raise them now. As many of you know, because I've spoken on this previously, my constituency is blessed with a number of waterways. The former City of Dartmouth, you may remember, was called the City of Lakes because it had about two dozen lakes within its boundaries. When you add other waterways to the definition of lakes, like bogs and streams and rivers and wetlands, probably you could quadruple that number.

Waterways are very important to the citizens of Dartmouth, particularly in my constituency. I'm concerned that Bill No. 113 doesn't go far enough to protect those waterways, nor does it lessen the confusion among all three levels of government, which allows them to pass the buck when dealing with even well-intentioned residents and developers, politicians and people who use our waterways. We need to see political will, and we need to see an enforcement, and we need to see higher standards of protection for waterways across this province, not just in my constituency.

Now there's a great awareness about what waterways mean to us in Dartmouth, because of our long historic relationship with waterways. Dartmouth was actually founded as a village and a town because of the water. We had industries that were powered by water power. We had the ice houses. I remember even in my youth going to one of the ice houses when my uncle was delivering some sawdust there. So that is not all that long ago.

Our lakes are a centre of sports and recreation, they are a centre of social activities, they bring tourists to our community. There is a high level of usage, everything from fishing to swimming, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, motorboating, wind sailing, waterskiing, and on and on and on, but particularly swimming. I have to say that in the four years that I have been an MLA, I have an increasing number of concerns from constituents talking about the deterioration in the water quality in the lakes and waterways in Dartmouth.

I must say, besides having a lot of waterways, we are also blessed with having a lot of organizations and neighbourhood groups that are concerned about water quality. I just want to mention a few of them. I read a resolution in this Chamber within the last couple of weeks honouring Audrey Manzer, who has been Chairman of the Dartmouth Lakes Advisory Board for the last 35 years. This is a board made up of experts and community residents who advise the regional council of whether or not planning

[Page 1970]

applications, development applications meet the current standards and criteria at the municipal level of government.

We also have an organization, of which I was one of the founding members, called Save our Lakes committee. A number of the individual lakes have very active neighbourhood groups that monitor water quality. Those include Russell and Morris Lakes, and also the Portland Estates Residents Association have an environment committee that is very active on environmental issues. We have Shalom Mandaville and the Soil & Water Conservation Society of Metro Halifax that is run out of my constituency. Shalom and others very involved in monitoring and cleanup around Maynards Lake. The Clean Nova Scotia non-profit organization is situated across the street from my constituency office, and they certainly have been playing a leadership role not only in my community, but across this province. So you see, we have a lot of experience and knowledgeable residents and advocates on behalf of the environment, but particularly on behalf of waterway protection.

Now, one of the problems with the provincial legislation is that in terms of water, it focuses mainly on drinking water quality and also protection of the shoreline. There is very little in regulation, policy and practice to protect the other waterways in Nova Scotia. I would suggest that the provincial government has a particular responsibility to set a high standard of protection for these waterways. The federal government seems mostly concerned with navigable waters and not particular inland waterways. The municipalities, because there are 55 of them, their efforts are very much fragmented across this province. So everyone is looking to the Department of Environment and Labour to take a leadership role in developing a province-wide strategy that the municipalities and federal government could work along with. That would provide a comprehensive, integrated, co-ordinated policy so that well-intentioned developers and residents and builders and users of our waterways would understand where things are headed and actually be part of the solution, and not be in this confusing maze of trying to find out who is responsible for what, and what the regulations and policies are.

Because of the number of concerns being expressed to me as a MLA, I decided to host a community meeting, and we invited a number of organizations and residents throughout Dartmouth and beyond to come to this meeting, put our heads together and see if there was a willingness to work together to try to develop a strategy at least focused on Dartmouth waterways.

I have to say the response was outstanding. It was a miserable night, but we had over 40 people come to this meeting and about 10 to15 others expressed interest but were not free to come that night. These people represented a wide variety of small neighbourhood, regional or provincial organizations. We also had representatives of politicians from all three levels and I was very pleased to have my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, there. We had representatives from all three levels of the Civil Service as well.

[Page 1971]

I have to say it was a very positive, proactive meeting. Although people identified their concerns, we made sure this wasn't a meeting where you just blamed someone else for what happened and went away feeling discouraged and negative.

[7:15 p.m.]

The number of concerns that were raised, I'm sure, would be of no surprise to anyone in this Chamber. They included lack of enforcement of even the minimal and sometimes ineffective regulations and policies that all three levels have currently. There was a lot of concern about the buck-passing; there was no clear explanation available as to which level of government was responsible for what and who the contact people were. There was concern about public access and appropriate use of waterways. There was a lot of concern expressed about standards being too low in terms of the nutrients and sediments that end up in our waters.

It's interesting because even 20 years ago our waterways were seen as a natural filter for the contaminants off the land on their way to the ocean. We no longer view waterways in that manner, now they have to be protected. They're not seen as filters, they need protection themselves. That's why some of the policies are so ineffective.

We're putting buffers around a lot of our lakes and streams, but at the same time, we're piping in storm water that's carrying fertilizer and oil and things dumped on the land right under the buffer into the water. That doesn't make sense.

There's concern about overflow sewage. I know in downtown Dartmouth, for example, a lot of our sewer pipes are 100 years old, so you can imagine the leakage that's coming from there. The fish passage is being compromised by covering up a lot of our streams and putting pipes in. People mentioned that development is often over-developed or inappropriate around lakes. Certainly, the Shubenacadie Canal system, which is one of our heritage waterways, is of concern and that needs to be remediated and increased in terms of use; and, the necessity to develop more green belts around our waterways.

These were all raised as concerns. What was decided, a group of about 10 people from that meeting have agreed to meet with me and develop the next steps. Hopefully we can find a way of working together, involving a number of provincial organizations and individual residents so that we can combine our resources, our time, our effort, our interest in protecting waterways, particularly in Dartmouth, and move forward on this.

As you've heard from me many, many times, this is a big issue. it's a complex issue. The responsibility needs to be shared, but the only way we can possibly move forward on this is working together. We're trying to find a neutral mechanism and process for people with different interests, wanting the objective to be a better legacy for

[Page 1972]

our children and grandchildren in terms of use of waterways in Dartmouth and the quality of their water.

I think they're looking for that common ground, and I'm really encouraged by the interest, and we're hopeful that it's going to go somewhere. At the same time, we'd like to see more leadership coming from the provincial Department of Environment and Labour.

I'm hoping that the suggestion of a round table on sustainable environment might take on as its first challenge developing such a provincial strategy on waterway protection. It certainly would be a worthy cause, I think there's a lot of interest. I know that other organizations and levels of government would want to work towards that. Everyone agrees it's a problem, and no one seems to want to take the first step in terms of action on the government side. I think it would be a very appropriate role for our provincial government.

So I just want to say in reference to Bill No. 113 that it makes small improvements, but I don't see the vision and the leap forward that is necessary to match the expectations of our citizens. The awareness that our young people are gaining within our public education system, I have to pay credit to the teachers in this province and the parents of our young people , because they are so much more aware of the relationship and the role of environment in their lives than any earlier generation was. We have to match their good intentions and their efforts in terms of the environment. I think that our children and our grandchildren and our communities deserve our best efforts and they certainly deserve to have us working together.

With those comments, I would like to say, in principal, I support Bill No. 113, but there's certainly a long way to go in terms of waterway protection, and I'd like to see more action on that within legislation, regulations and policy. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I, too, will lend my support to this amendment to Bill No. 113 to the Environment Act, although I cannot be as enthusiastic about my support. I think it's certainly a needed amendment, I certainly do believe that it is an absolute needed amendment here, but I would suggest that it's more about process and the fine tuning of that process rather than about any real substance. Although we do absolutely need to see that fine tuning of the processes in the Environment Act, I am hoping that sometime in the future we can move forward in so much more substantial ways.

I'm of the mindset that the Department of Environment and Labour for far too long has always remained the department at the bottom of the list here in this province and certainly across the country. The Department of Environment and Labour has always

[Page 1973]

kind of been seen as that department of no real subsequent value, a pain in the neck to industry, a pain in the neck for government to enforce regulations around the Environment Act. I'm really of the firm belief that we kind of have it backwards, that the Department of Environment and Labour really should be the department in which all other departments need to refer to.

When we look at the environmental challenges that we're being faced with here in this province, here in this country, and globally, we really need to get serious about how we address those issues, and until we filter and feed all of the other departments into the Department of Environment and Labour before they move forward, then we're really not going to make a big difference in our environmental problems that we're facing today.

While I applaud the minister in having consultation with a variety of stakeholders prior to the amendments made in this Act - and the establishment of a round table is certainly a good move in terms of making sure that we have various voices at that table when we're discussing how we move forward on these amendments and making sure that we're addressing our immediate needs today.

I just want to talk a little bit about what some of my other colleagues touched on and some elaborated on some of our concerns. The provisions for the Department of Environment and Labour to discuss with stakeholders sustainable environmental practices, I think really we need to be including green economic development into that sustainable mix so that when we're talking about sustainable environment, we're also creating an atmosphere for sustainable economic development, green economic development.

Sometimes we don't give enough credit to the green economy. It is an economy that is on the edge, it's on the scientific radar, it's in the minds of most businesses that are working to green their businesses, they're moving forward with great green products. They're trying to get the message out, but we still have such a long way to go to really create that green economy. So I'm hoping that when we're talking sustainable environment, we're also talking about sustainable economic development and the greening of that economic development.

When I refer to the Department of Environment and Labour being that department that all departments kind of feed into, we can apply that to - when we're talking renewable energy, for example, the Department of Energy really needs to be working in compliance with the Department of Environment and Labour, but the Department of Environment and Labour really needs to take the lead and be able to say, look, in order to comply with the Environment Act and the amendments that we're putting forward, we really need to have other departments onside and really developing their policies and mandates around the Act rather than the other way around.

[Page 1974]

It's really important; as we know, we're faced with air quality issues here in this province and we really need to get a handle on the reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions, our methane gas. It's fine to have amendments and regulations in place within the Environment Act, but if we really don't put enforcement or teeth or legislation behind the Act, then we're really not going to get a handle on the reduction of these greenhouse gas emissions. So, again, I would suggest that the departments need to be talking to one another and the Department of Environment and Labour really needs to take that lead.

I see in part of the bill that there is some discussion on better environmental management and certainly polluter pays which is great to have there. We need to be talking about more polluter pays for industry or for individuals who adversely affect the environment through their conduct of business, or through their lack of knowledge about where to dump their garbage, or how to use the system, or whatever infraction they make. I think the polluter pay model is a good one, but we need to be able to have the ability to actually monitor that. When we're talking about adverse conditions, what do we mean by adverse conditions and what is the assessment tool being used to monitor what that adverse condition is or that adverse affect? Also the enforcement and the penalty, what is that polluter pay penalty? I think we need to know what that is all about.

I want to talk a bit about the protection of our watersheds and our waterways and I certainly agree with my colleague who spoke before me and how important it is that we look at protection of our watersheds and our waterways. An example that I want to refer to is the most recent flood that happened in Queens a year ago. We had a major flood, our first flood in several years, but it was quite significant in the fact that it was clearly evident to us in our communities that there has been a substantial altering of our waterways over many years, and our watershed area.

While DNR has certainly good mapping about where our waterways are, the geographical outlay of our watercourses, what they look like, but we don't have up-to-date data on our waterways as they sit today. It's fine to have them mapped 10 years ago, or 15 years ago, but with development, with clear-cutting, with industry, with different uses of our lands, our waterways are constantly shifting. So we're not keeping up to date on what those waterways look like and, as a result of not keeping up to date, not knowing what those altered waterways look like it's difficult to really put in good management and good protection for our waterways if we're really not sure, from year to year, if those same watercourses still exist.

A result of a flood can wipe out dams, can create new waterways, can create new streams, new rivers, and in the process of those altering waterways, of course, is the movement of other contaminants that perhaps were in one particular area of a community or a land mass, and all of a sudden they're being directed elsewhere. So we really need to get a handle on what, today, our watershed and water areas look like.

[Page 1975]

Many years ago I would go around to some of the local schools and talk about the three Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle. Our children are like sponges, and my kids used to laugh at me because I was probably the only parent at the time in our community who would have them wash out cans and crush them so they would fit compactly - we didn't have blue bags at the time. So I would take this message around to some of the local schools, and I'm proud to say that I was part of a local group that really helped Queens get on the bandwagon with recycling, reducing, and reusing our waste.

[7:30 p.m.]

When I look back at that period of time, it was even 20 years before that that I was part of an anti-littering campaign in high school. The environment for me has always been something that I've been very passionate about, and I have always tried to make my little bit of the world a little bit cleaner or greener. There was a period of time where the province, I think, helped initiate using cloth bags when we went into grocery stores. So when I look at Sobeys move to put out green bags for consumers, I'm thinking we did that x number of years ago and then we lost sight of it - there was the big promotion, we want everybody to be using cloth bags and we want to start reducing some of the plastics, and then it just kind of fell by the wayside. Like everything else, we start these initiatives, or industry will step up to the plate and try to put an initiative forward, and we don't quite have the leadership from government to really keep it going, which is a shame, because then we come back full circle - we really have a problem here and we really need to address it.

We have more packaging created in the marketplace today than we had 10 years ago. I don't know if anybody has noticed, but when they pick up any widget or "gidget" , whether we're picking up a grocery product, whether we're picking up a hardware item, whether we're picking up clothing, the plastic is just incredible. It's absolutely overpackaged. When we talk about regulations and putting teeth and being leaders, we should be telling manufacturers - which we tried to do many years back - wait a minute, if you want to do business in Nova Scotia, send your product here but be responsible for the package, we're either going to send it back, or we don't want it packaged in this way.

The polluter pays; put the onus on the manufacturer. But at the same time we need to put onus on the consumer choices out there. Again, I refer back to several years ago when there was a movement underfoot that we would buy in bulk - bulk products were kind of the rage. Everybody would buy bulk products because of the need to not see as much packaging, not take home as much packaging. I'm seeing bulk food stores shut down, and bulk stores shut down. We're not keeping pace. We're not showing the leadership to keep these initiatives moving forward.

I think, too, that it is most important that the Department of Environment and Labour take the lead and talk to the Department of Education and perhaps look at ways that we can create a more educated youth to be experts in the fields of environmental

[Page 1976]

sciences. Students should be learning about the environment from the first day they walk into the school system. We should be producing graduates today; we are leaving a legacy for our children today, who will be faced with the challenges of global warming in the next 10, 15, 20, 30 years time, who will be faced with looking after their water quality, looking after their food supply, looking after their green economy. We are not producing the experts in our education system to be able to deal with those pressing environmental issues that they will be facing. Without a doubt - we can deny it or we can accept it - our children, my age today, will be faced with these problems tenfold. If we don't get a handle on how we help them protect whatever legacy or save whatever legacy we're going to leave for them, then we are doing them a disservice. This is a crime, we know better.

So again, I would encourage that leadership coming from the Department of Environment and Labour, let's talk to our universities, let's start degree granting programs where we are actually producing experts in the field of environmental sciences and, Heaven forbid, there are many environmental sciences out there to pick from. Let's produce experts in water quality, in waste reduction, in reducing the use of plastics, in better air quality, better coastal environmental management.

Before I close I want to swing my attention back to a very local issue, that being the development of the proposed expansion of a fish farm in the area of Port Mouton Bay. Last night I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation put on by a very well-renowned biologist from New Brunswick who had taken us through the aquaculture industry in New Brunswick from the beginning to kind of the early 1990's, of a crisis in that industry to where they are today. At the end of the presentation there was a slide that I was very intrigued with, that being a slide about our environmental monitoring and assessment processes around aquaculture in Nova Scotia, compared to New Brunswick and compared to Maine.

What was startling is that for an industry here looking to establish itself, which is already established but looking to expand in different parts of the province, we have some of the most relaxed assessment processes for the monitoring of what is happening out there in the waters. There is no assessment tool for the measurement of nutrients going into those fish farm sites and, of course, nutrients and the buildup of nutrients not only produces a multitude of tonnage of methane gas, not only smothering the natural marine life on the bottom of the ocean floor, but it also creates an abundance of algae and mosses that flourish with the quantity of nutrients that are being produced by the feed going into these fish farms.

We don't have the right assessment tools being used to really monitor what that looks like. So again, I would stress that the Environment and Labour Minister and his department look clearly at what that monitoring looks like and put in the proper tools to monitor these aquaculture industries across the province, assessing them in finer detail

[Page 1977]

and working with that industry to remediate sites if they need to relocate or if they are not working.

In closing, I want to just quickly say that, yes, my support is there certainly to see this amendment take place, but again I would hope that some time in the future this government, or governments in the future really look to be more visionary and look at the importance of having an Environment Department, having experts there to lend their voice to really help us move forward with some of the challenges we're going to be faced with in the future, and especially for our future generations. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the members opposite for the comments. I have 14 pages of notes that I will be taking back to the department. I appreciate all their comments; very good comments. There are many things I could respond to but the hour is moving on, so maybe just individually I'll talk to the members about various issues.

One small thing that I will mention, two of the members mentioned a need for a comprehensive water strategy for the province beyond drinking water. I just wanted to report that there is some good news going on in the Bras d'Or Lakes, where the municipalities and the indigenous communities around there have come together, and after many years, I just received a notice that they've come to an agreement on how to protect the Bras d'Or, since this is a treasure that they all depend upon.

There are some good things happening, but I do take into account the challenge that the provincial government needs to perhaps be more involved in that than it has been in the past. Certainly, I'll take that back to the department in terms of water.

The environment, Mr. Speaker, is one of those issues that cuts across departments and across Parties, really. So it's an interesting and fascinating issue, one that we all need to work together. I appreciate the positive nature of the comments and the suggestions that were given. With those few words, I will move to close debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 113. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1978]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m, and sit until the hour of 5:00 p. m., or until such time government business is completed, which may be earlier than that. The order of business for tomorrow will be Public Bills for Third Reading, Public Bills in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, Public Bills for Second Reading, and I believe there may be also Private and Local Bills for Third Reading, potentially.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is that the House rise to meet again tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. The House will sit tomorrow between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The House stands adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:42 p.m.]

[Page 1979]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 966

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day, I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on November 20, 2006, the River Hebert Elementary School will hold a special service to recognize National Child Day; and

Whereas it is very important that our children understand that the many things in life that they enjoy are not enjoyed by all children everywhere; and

Whereas each year, these elementary students gather to learn about children from throughout the whole world;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the staff, teachers and students of River Hebert Elementary School in their effort to ensure that they recognize the rights of all children throughout the world and wish them all the success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 967

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day, I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department will gather with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Jeremy Rushton will be one of four volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Jeremy Rushton will be recognized for one year of dedicated service to the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jeremy Rushton on his dedicated service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 968

[Page 1980]

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day, I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department will gather with friends and family on November 25, 2006 to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Darren Patriquin will be one of four volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Darren Patriquin will be recognized for five years of dedicated service to the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Darren Patriquin on his dedicated service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 969

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day, I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department will gather with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Jennifer Rushton will be one of four volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for her service to the department; and

Whereas Jennifer Rushton will be recognized for one year of dedicated service to the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jennifer Rushton on her dedicated service and wish her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 970

[Page 1981]

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day, I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department will gather with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Dale Patriquin will be one of four volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Dale Patriquin will be recognized with 30 years of dedicated service to the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dale Patriquin on his dedicated service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 971

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Stephen Chapman will be one of five volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Stephen Chapman will be recognized for 20 years of dedicated service to the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Stephen Chapman on his dedicated service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 972

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

[Page 1982]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Alex Gullens will be one of five volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Alex Gullens will be recognized for five years of dedicated service to the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Alex Gullens on his dedicated service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 973

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Edwin Jones will be one of five volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Edwin Jones will be recognized for one year of dedicated service to the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Edwin Jones on his dedicated service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 974

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

[Page 1983]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Barry Rushton will be one of five volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Barry Rushton will be recognized for fifteen years of dedicated service to the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Barry Rushton on his dedicated service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 975

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 25, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Forrest Merlin will be one of five volunteer firefighters to be honoured at the banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Forrest Merlin will be recognized for five years of dedicated service to the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Forrest Merlin on his dedicated service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 976

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

[Page 1984]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 18, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Chris Layte will be one of five volunteer firefighters honoured at the annual banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Chris has given five years of dedicated service to the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Chris Layte on his service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 977

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 18, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Allison Ellis will be one of five volunteer firefighters honoured at the annual banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Allison has given 10 years of dedicated service to the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Allison Ellis on his service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 978

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

[Page 1985]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 18, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Ken Hickman will be one of five volunteer firefighters honoured at the annual banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Ken has given 10 years of dedicated service to the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ken Hickman on his service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 979

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 18, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Truman Rushton will be one of five volunteer firefighters honoured at the annual banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Truman has given 10 years of dedicated service to the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Truman Rushton on his service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 980

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

[Page 1986]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department will gather together with friends and family on November 18, 2006, to honour those who volunteer their time and effort to the fire department; and

Whereas Dean Emmerson will be one of five volunteer firefighters honoured at the annual banquet for his service to the department; and

Whereas Dean has given 45 years of dedicated service to the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dean Emmerson on his service and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 981

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Town of Oxford is honouring its firefighters for unselfishly giving of their time and effort to provide protection of the lives and property of the community; and

Whereas Mayor Lloyd Jenkins declared the month of November as Volunteer Firefighters Appreciation Month, also the Oxford Baptist Church hosted a special service to recognize the commitment of firefighters and their families; and

Whereas the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department has been protecting its community for 102 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department, the ladies auxiliary and their families for the dedicated service to the Town of Oxford and its surrounding communities and wish them a safe and successful future.

RESOLUTION NO. 982

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

[Page 1987]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Raelene Wilson of Oxford was recently named Baseball Nova Scotia's Minor Female Player of the Year; and

Whereas Raelene won the same award two seasons ago while playing mosquito baseball in Oxford and was honoured a second time with the prestigious award, along with the honour of meeting Toronto Blue Jay great and Team Canada manager, Ernie Whitt; and

Whereas Raelene, who is a 12-year-old Grade 7 student at Oxford Regional High School, is now also concentrating her efforts on basketball as a member of the Golden Bears Bantam Team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Raelene Wilson on this outstanding achievement and wish her continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 983

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership has sailed away from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada Annual Conference in Jasper, Alberta, as the winner of a prestigious national award for sustainable tourism; and

Whereas the award, sponsored y Parks Canada and The Globe and Mail, recognizes the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership's innovative eco-business program; and

Whereas their objective is to reduce the environmental impacts on the bay by reducing pollution and waste;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership on this prestigious award and wish them continued success in the future.